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Aussie Regulator Reacts to Greenwash

Posted 31 March 2008 by Jacob Malthouse to Ecolabel News.

An Australian Magazine called Choice recently did a random survey of 70 grocery products and found more than 200 green messages on their packaging.

Responding quickly, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC), the government watchdog, published a document last month called Green Marketing And The Trade Practices Act.It warns business and industry that they can be taken to court by the ACCC, consumers and competitors for making false and misleading claims about the greenness of their products.

Here’s the substance on their warning:

1. Manufacturers should avoid using particularly vague terms in their labelling such as green, environmentally friendly, environmentally safe, recyclable or carbon neutral unless they can substantiate what they mean.

2. Explain which part of the product’s cycle is environmentally beneficial: its extraction, transportation, manufacturing, use, packaging or disposal.

3. Don’t use unqualified pictures that may mislead the consumer about the contents or the intentions of the product.

4. Don’t overstate the scientific significance of a product if the evidence is inconclusive, under consideration or disputed.

5. Don’t make irrelevant claims – for example, that a product isn’t tested on animals when it wouldn’t be, anyway.