LONDON, United Kingdom – UK regulators said Thursday that they would review “green” claims made by the makers of a range of everyday consumer goods to ensure they stand up to scrutiny.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it would “examine the accuracy” of claims made about household essentials such as food, drinks and toiletries so “shoppers are not being misled”.
The regulator said it was an “expansion” of its work into “greenwashing”, the misleading use of claims of good environmental practice in marketing or communications.
“We’re concerned many shoppers are being misled and potentially even paying a premium for products that aren’t what they seem,” CMA’s Chief Executive Sarah Cardell said.
“Our work to date has shown there could be greenwashing going on in this sector, and we’ll be scrutinising companies big and small to see whether their environmental claims stack up.”
She urged businesses to review their practices and ensure they are operating within the law.
Greenwashing — conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about the extent to which a company’s products, operations or services are environmentally sound — has proliferated in recent years.
The CMA will assess a host of products known as “fast-moving consumer goods”, which are essential items used by people on a daily basis and repurchased regularly.
As well as food, drinks and toiletries, they include cleaning products and personal care items in a sector worth over £130 billion ($161 billion) annually in the UK.
Practices that could breach consumer protection laws include the use of vague and broad eco-statements, such as branding a product “sustainable” or “better for the environment” with no evidence.
Regulators will also be on the lookout for misleading claims about the use of recycled or natural materials in a product and how recyclable it is.
A significant number of household products are marketed as “green” or “environmentally friendly”, including up to 91 percent of all dishwashing items and all toilet products, the CMA said.