The history of Greenwashing regulations

The history of Greenwashing regulations

Welcome back. 👋

It's time for the newest edition of the Greenifs sustainability newsletter. We learned about the main greenwashing regulations around the world. 🧼

Now it's time to dig even deeper. Every country has rules that are already in effect and others that are just coming into effect.

Let's get into region-specific rules that are soon to be implemented and change the way that greenwashing is regulated around the world. ⚖️

USA

There are three main rules here. Two are already in effect - it's the FTC Green guides. You can see the full document here. The short version of the rules:

  • Supplementing qualifications and disclosures should be written, or cited in plain text and language next to the sustainability claim.
  • An environmental marketing claim should specify whether it refers to the product, the product’s packaging, a service, or just to a portion of the product, package, or service.
  • An environmental marketing claim should not overstate, directly or by implication, an environmental attribute or benefit.
  • Comparative environmental marketing claims should be clear to avoid consumer confusion about the comparison.
The Environmental Claims act will come into effect in 2024

Almost here, although not yet through the legislative process is the environmental claims act. It's the newest addition to the Green Claims Code that aims to take a more aggressive stance against greenwashing and environmental claims in general. It defines scenarios, in which certain terms can be used. Mainly:

  • Marketers should not make broad, unqualified general environmental benefit claims like "green" or "eco-friendly." Broad claims are difficult to substantiate, if not impossible.
  • Marketers should qualify general claims with specific environmental benefits. Qualifications for any claims should be clear, prominent, and specific.
  • When a marketer qualifies a general claim with a specific benefit, consumers understand the benefit to be significant. As a result, marketers shouldn't highlight small or unimportant benefits.
  • If a qualified general claim conveys that a product has an overall environmental benefit because of a special attribute, marketers should analyse the trade-offs resulting from the attribute to prove the claim.

Europe

Europe has the oldest running regulations against false advertising 

Greenwashing has been a hot topic in the EU since the 1990s. The EASA created the blueprint for advertising standards and integrity in 1992. It is still in effect and serves as the background for all upcoming regulation.

The EU directive for fair commercial practices, Ecolabel regulation and Regulation for consumer product information further strengthened and defined the standards for greenwashing. However, the real change is coming in 2024.

The Green Claims Directive, pending approval in the European Parliament is the first regulation in the EU that will directly impose fines if a company is found to participate in greenwashing. For a claim to not be flagged under these new rules it needs to include:

  • All environmental aspects, environmental impacts or environmental performance covered by the claim.
  • The underlying studies or calculations used to assess, measure and monitor the environmental impacts, environmental aspects or environmental performance covered by the claim.
  • A brief explanation how the improvements that are subject to the claim are achieved.

UK

Still in it's infant stages, compared to other regulation, the first real regulation against greenwashing in the UK was the Advertising Standards Authority guide. It outlined practices that would not mislead UK consumers. However, the main document, regulating greenwashing in the country is the Green claims code.

It states that:

  • claims must be truthful and accurate.
  • claims must be clear and unambiguous.
  • claims must not omit or hide important relevant information.
  • comparisons must be fair and meaningful.
  • claims must consider the full life cycle of the product or service.
  • claims must be substantiated.

To further strengthen the system already in place, the Financial Conduct Authority put forth new proposals. Although still in development, the goals and guidelines of the proposal are outlined here.

🦩Fun and interesting facts

In the early 2000s, bp launched a $200 million marketing campaign that introduced a new slogan, "Beyond Petroleum," and a logo featuring a green and yellow sun. The campaign was aimed at promoting BP as an environmental leader, highlighting their investments in solar and other renewable energy technologies.

However, the investment in the advertisement campaign was greater that into the environmentally friendly technologies they were promoting. 🤦

🔨Interesting tools

Our Greenifs assistant is here to help you comply all your texts fully with the international green marketing guidelines - the most comprehensive greenwashing prevention guide in the world. 🌎

With Greenifs.ai you can check all your texts instantly and make sure they don't have any trace of greenwashing in them. 💨

  • Prevent any potential greenwashing accusations.
  • Improve customer retention and brand image.
  • Learn about the most frequent mistakes causing greenwashing and learn how to avoid them.

See you all next week!