Touting the environmental credentials of your product or service can be an effective way to appeal to “green” conscious consumers. That’s no bad thing, but when making environmental claims it’s crucial that you’re able to prove them and avoid misleading would-be customers. For example: the basis of environmental claims must be explained; pseudo-scientific or confusing claims should be avoided; and the entire life cycle of a product should generally be taken into account when considering a product’s environmental impact.
To read all these rules, please see the dedicated sections for Environmental claims in the CAP and BCAP Codes. Read on for a few of the points that you should consider before you describe your product as “green”.
Does your claim apply across the product’s lifecycle?
Claims such as “environmentally friendly” are increasingly common, but that doesn’t mean they should be used lightly. Unless marketers hold substantive evidence that their product will cause no environmental damage across its entire life cycle, from manufacture to disposal, such claims should be clearly qualified. As the ruling on Georgia-Pacific GB demonstrates, unqualified “green” claims are regarded as absolute statements about the product’s life cycle, and should only be used where evidence is held to support them.
Can the product in its entirety be recycled?
If a marketer wishes to claim that their product is recyclable, they must hold appropriate evidence, as in this ruling on Carpet Recycling UK Ltd. Similarly, marketers should avoid implying that all of a product can be recycled if only part of it can be.
If a marketer would like to claim that their product is 100% recycled, then it really must be 100%, not merely close, as this ruling on Colourful Coffins Ltd demonstrates.
Read further advice on recycling claims.
Is the basis of your comparison clearly stated?
Fuel efficient cars are increasingly popular, but marketers must resist the temptation to exaggerate the efficiency of their cars. For example, if making comparisons regarding fuel performance or emissions, marketers should make it clear whether they are comparing their car against all cars on sale or just cars in the same category. As this ruling on Lexus (GB) Ltd demonstrates, stating that a car has “low” emissions amounts to an objective, comparative claim, and should be qualified to make clear what the comparison refers to, and supported by verifiable evidence accordingly.
These rules also apply to fuel efficiency additives and devices, the efficacy claims of which must be supported by robust evidence, as can be seen in this ruling on H2gogo Ltd.
Read our thorough advice on motoring environmental claims.
Help ensure your environmental claims are more than ‘hot air’ by contacting our Copy Advice team for confidential and expert advice on your marketing campaigns.