The Green Claims Guidance, published by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), is aimed at protecting consumers from false and misleading claims about the environmental credentials of products.

The guide sets out advice to companies on how to describe the environmental benefits of their prducts in a clear and accurate manner.

Research conducted in the making of the guide found that while consumers are becoming more familiar with green terms such as ‘recycling’, they were less sure of phrases like ‘negative carbon footprint’.

It also found that companies were not always sure how to communicate the genuine improvements they have made to their products.

Environment minister, Lord Henley, said: “Sales of ‘green’ goods contribute billions of pounds towards the economy while helping to reduce our impact on the environment.

“If people are making the effort to buy green it is only right that we try to make the process as easy as possible.

“Our guide will make things easier for both business and consumer – helping restore public faith in environmental advertising and acting as a resource for companies developing more sustainable products.”

The guide encourages businesses to follow three key steps in their labelling. They should ensure the content of the claim is relevant and genuine, claims should be made clearly and accurately and they should be able to substantiate any claims.

The guide has the backing of leading retailers including Marks and Spencer and the Co-operative.

Marks and Spencer’s corporate sustainability manager, Rowland Hill, said: “We welcome the new Green Claims Guidance which will help companies to market products and services that are more sustainable.

“It’s in everybody’s best interest that sustainable products are legitimately promoted to replace less sustainable alternatives.

“Marks & Spencer launched sustainability targets back in 2007 to help our customers live more sustainably and make informed choices about what they buy.”

You can read the Defra guide here.

Alison Brown

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