If you haven’t wrapped your head around the concept of greenwashing, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission published a useful resource last week. In its draft guidance to business on environmental and sustainability claims, the ACCC outlines eight principles to help businesses comply with their obligations under Australian Consumer Law.
These principles go beyond being simply truthful, to ensuring you do not omit important information, have evidence to back up your claims and, if you say you’re transitioning to a more sustainable future, you present credible plans for how you are going to do so.
The reason this is important to the ACCC is because consumers are increasingly considering environmental and sustainability claims in purchase decisions. Businesses have obligations under Schedule 2 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 not to make false or misleading representations or engage in misleading or deceptive conduct.
The ACCC’s draft guidance is useful for both companies and consumers. For companies, it provides numerous examples of what is good practice. For consumers, it provides a framework for identifying whether a company is trying to take advantage of your good intentions.
With the ACCC able to impose penalties of up to $50 million, as well as the reputational damage that would flow from a penalty, it’s time everyone in business wrapped their head around greenwashing. The ACCC’s draft guidance provides a good place to start.
This article also appeared in The West Australian newspaper.