It's been a busy few months for the fight against greenwashing and for the first time ever, it seems sustainability and eco claims made by brands are finally under serious scrutiny.
Firstly, new consumer protection guidance – the Green Claims Code – was released by the UK’s primary Competition & Markets Authority (CMA). A crack down on environmental and sustainability claims, it outlines what brands must do to ensure their claims are compliant – and has given them just months to do so before it begins its own investigation.
Days later, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) announced a series of inquiries, followed by the Committee of Advertising Practice (Cap) which released new guidance on environmental claims to advertisers.
What is greenwashing?
As consumers increasingly demand that their go-to brands reduce or eliminate their negative impact on the environment, many businesses have used vague and unsubstantiated ‘green’ claims to help sell their products or services. Even if they can’t legally make those claims. That could mean claiming a product is natural or organic, even if only a small portion of it really is. Or it could be something as subtle as designing new packaging and logos to mimic real certifying bodies.
Customers are busy, and for the most part trusting. However a recent international analysis of websites found that 40% of green claims made online could be misleading. So, why do we care, and why should you care too?
Take skincare products as just one example. The skin is your body’s largest organ, so what you put on it really matters. If you’ve chosen - or have been told - to opt for natural or organic products for health reasons for example, it is so important that you are getting what you think you are. And the only way to do that is to look for kitemarks by trusted, industry leading bodies. More on that later…
Until the glorious day that everyone will live up to the highest possible standards, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is here to protect consumers and brand competitors from misleading marketing by other businesses.
Its new Green Claims Code sets out six key points for brands to check their environmental claims are genuinely green.
The Green Claims Code
The new Green Claims Code says that claims must:
1. Be truthful and accurate.
2. Be clear and unambiguous in what a consumer is likely to take from a product’s messaging.
3. Not omit or hide important information. Claims must not prevent someone from making an informed choice because of the information they leave out.
4. Only make fair and meaningful comparisons. They should meet the same needs or be intended for the same purpose.
5. Consider the full life cycle – the total impact of a product or service on the environment.
6. Be substantiated. Claims must be backed up with robust, credible and up to date evidence.
How Pai (already) meets these guidelines
We are independently certified by COSMOS (Soil Association), Cruelty Free International and The Vegan Society.
This means every part of our business is scrutinised and audited annually to check we’re maintaining those high standards.
The Soil Association
So customers can have full confidence that our certified organic products are indeed organic, we are accredited by the Soil Association, who conduct third party checks, annual inspections and require detailed production records and traceability paperwork.
When you see that logo on our products you know they are 100% natural and at least 70% of (non-water) ingredients are organically grown and harvested. That all organic ingredients are non-GM, sustainably grown (without pesticides) and harvested, and extracted without the use of chemical solvents. And that any non-organic ingredients included have passed strict toxicity and biodegradability criteria and carry a non-GM certificate.
COSMOS Natural Certification
Our natural products are certified to a Soil Association COSMOS Natural standard which means that no animal testing has been conducted and a minimum of 98% of ingredients are of natural origin. Any non-natural ingredients must meet strict standards, green chemistry principles and cannot exceed 2% of the formulation. No endangered plant species may be used, no GM Ingredients, no controversial chemicals, parabens or phthalates. And finally no synthetic colours, dyes or fragrances.
The Vegan Society
Our products are independently assessed each year to ensure there is no inclusion of animal ingredients, including those not present in the final product.
Finally, our products are certified under the Cruelty Free International Leaping Bunny programme. This means that we do not test our products on animals, don’t source ingredients that are tested on animals, and do not sell to physical stores in mainland China or any other country that requires animal testing as a condition of importing.
If you’re interested in learning more about this legislation, our Founder Sarah talks in-depth about greenwashing in this recent webinar with Provenance the CMA, which you can watch for free here.