Unmasking Greenwashing: Your Guide to ICC's Green Marketing Guidelines 👀🌳

Unmasking Greenwashing: Your Guide to ICC's Green Marketing Guidelines 👀🌳

Welcome back. 👋

Let's continue exploring the fascinating world of greenwashing. 🧼

This week we'll try to help you understand what exactly are the green marketing guidelines, issued by the International Chamber of Commerce - the main international authority regulating greenwashing claims. Hopefully it will help you become more aware of this practice around you and prevent you from doing it yourselves. ⚖️


The International chamber of Commerce is the institutional representative of 45 million companies in more than 170 countries, making it easier for businesses to trade internationally. They solve disputes and is the main intermediary authority between the private and the public sector. In the past decade it has been at the forefront of accelerating sustainability in business and ensuring a level playing field for companies around the world.

ICC green marketing framework

ICC has published updated guidance for responsible environmental marketing communications to help marketers and advertisers make truthful and useful environmental claims.

Updated in 2021, it is the most comprehensive green marketing guide in the world. The updated ICC Framework addresses some emerging claims seen in the marketplace, including terms such as “net-zero’, “climate positive”, “carbon neutral”, “micro-plastics free”, “not made with fossil fuels”, and updated guidance on claims like “compostable”, “biodegradable” and others.

It is a fundamental requirement of the ICC Code that claims should be truthful. non-misleading, clear, and substantiated. ICC therefore denounces the use of exaggerated, unsubstantiated claims that (may) deceive consumers into falsely believing the marketer’s products, services or operations are environmentally sound.

Let's break the rules down 🚜

The guide is rather simple in its form. All you need to do to abide by it is to answer these questions before releasing your marketing material:

  • Does the sustainability claim you're making refer to the packaging, product, or a component within the product.

One of the most important steps is checking what your claims actually refer to. A product is not sustainable, because it's packaging is made from recyclable materials. Keep them separate and do not imply the sustainability of the product as a whole, if only one part of it is.

  • Do you use colours (e.g., green), pictures (e.g., trees, mountains, wildlife) or other elements to connote environmental or sustainability benefits?

It is not advisable to use these types of colors and visuals, especially if your product is not related to it. It is considered fraudulent to use these visuals in marketing material that doesn't have anything to do with sustainability.

  • Are your proposed claims specific and unambiguous?

Vague and non-specific claims are likely to be misleading and should be avoided.

  • Are your proposed claims verifiable based on appropriate test methods or scientific data?

Claims made without any scientific data or certificate proving their credibility are considered greenwashing.

You can download the checklist here. The full guidelines document can be downloaded here.

By following the guidelines and diligently learning the checklist will save you from both fines and will jumpstart your company's path to sustainability.

🏕 Greenifs.ai

The Greenifs AI Checker ensures your communication material aligns with green marketing guidelines, identifies potential greenwashing errors, and offers targeted corrections. Test it out!

🐙Fun and interesting facts:

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) created its own unique system of international commercial terms known as Incoterms, commonly used in the business world. They provide a set of standardized three-letter abbreviations, such as FOB (Free On Board) and CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight), which help clarify important aspects like the point of delivery, transport costs, and risk transfer between the parties involved. Incoterms have become an integral part of global commerce and are regularly updated by the ICC to reflect changes and developments in international trade practices.

See you next week!

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