CMA to scrutinise 'green' claims in household essentials

January 27, 2023

The Competition and Markets Authority ("CMA") announced yesterday that it is going to scrutinise 'green' claims in sales of household essentials.

The move comes as part of the CMA's ongoing work into misleading green claims (or 'greenwashing') and is driven by a concern that consumers are being misled by marketing, and potentially paying a premium for products which are not as environmentally friendly or sustainable as they seem. [1]

According to research quoted by the CMA, shoppers spent over £130 billion last year on household essentials (including food and drink, cleaning and homecare products and toiletries) and a significant number are marketed as "green" or "environmentally friendly", including up to 91% of all dishwashing items and 100% of toilet products. [2]

As the cost of living crisis continues to bite, and consumers face rising household bills, the CMA wants to ensure that consumers trying to make environmentally conscious choices are not being taken for a ride.  Of particular concern are: (a) "vague and broad" statements on packaging (e.g., "sustainable", "better for the environment") but with no accompanying evidence; and (b) misleading claims about products being made from "recycled or natural materials" with inadequate clarifying information, such as how recyclable the product really is.

Having scrutinised the fashion sector last year, the CMA now has fast-moving consumer goods companies in its sights.  All brands should be working hard to ensure that their packaging and marketing comply with advertising standards and consumer protection law.  As we've said before  [3]– it's not just a matter of legal compliance, but a matter of brand integrity.  If a brand is found to have 'greenwashed' their credentials then, aside from the legal sanctions, it will be likely to negatively impact on brand reputation and, ultimately, sales.

Caroline CopelandCaroline Copeland
Caroline Copeland
Caroline Copeland

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