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Zero Greenwashing

The demand for products and services that minimize harm to, or have a positive effect on, the environment is constantly growing. As a result, there has been an increase in the products and services that claim to meet that demand.

The sustainability transition is not an easy feat. Marketers have a role to play as being part of the solution and helping the consumer make informed decisions about their purchases. The CommToZero coalition has taken the initiative to create a guide helping the marcom industry communicate in a meaningful and transparent way about their environmental efforts.

The guide is based on 6 principles that should be considered when claiming that a product or service has no negative impact, a positive impact, or a comparatively better impact on the environment.

Zero Greenwashing

Environmental Claims

Before getting into the 6 principles, we should understand the meaning of environmental claims and when can they be considered as misleading environmental claims aka greenwashing.
Icons related to 6 principles

What are environmental claims?

“Environmental claims” are any claims about the environmental attributes or impact of a product or business, including claims that a product or business has no negative impact, a positive impact, or a comparatively better impact on the environment. They can be based on the composition of products, the way they have been manufactured or produced, the way they can be disposed of and the reduction in energy or pollution which can be expected from using them.

Environmental claims can be made in many ways, both express and implied, and include all types of claims, information, symbols, images, logos, graphics, colours, and company, product or brand names.

What are misleading environmental claims, and why are they a problem?

Misleading environmental claims are claims related to a business’s or product’s environmental attributes or impact on the environment that are not properly substantiated or that contain false information, omit important information, are exaggerated or are presented in an unclear, ambiguous or inaccurate manner.

Given the global significance of climate change and environmental issues, consumers’ decisions to buy products are increasingly influenced by a desire to reduce environmental harm or to have a positive impact on the environment. Environmental claims have become more prevalent with this increased importance, and it is therefore vital that the audience of marketing communications is given information on which they can rely, to make informed decisions. It is also difficult for the audience to self-assess the accuracy of environmental claims, and it therefore relies on the information provided to by marketers. It is therefore essential that marketers hold robust evidence to support their claims before they make them, and this is explained in more detail in Principle 2.