by Hayley Jarick, Supply Chain Sustainability School CEO
Ms Delia Rickard, Deputy Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ( ACCC) put all Australian businesses on notice during a speech on 20 September, “The ACCC will soon be commencing an internet sweep of various environmental claims made by Australian businesses…The ACCC won’t hesitate to take enforcement action where we see that consumers are being misled or deceived by green claims.”
The crackdown comes as concerns grow that some businesses are falsely promoting environmental or green credentials to capitalise on changing consumer preferences. Ms Rickard said, “Sometimes despite best intentions, businesses may inadvertently mislead consumers for a variety of reasons, such as a poor understanding of their supply chain, a lack of due diligence before making marketing claims, or poor reporting practices.”
Don’t let ‘poor understanding’ hinder your progression to a more sustainable business. Invite your colleagues to join your School Membership account, complete a self-assessment and work through your personalised learning action plan. Or better yet, become a School Fellow and not only train your business but your supply chain too.
Ms Rickard shared “5 key rules of thumb” to help businesses “undergoing the transition process to be more sustainable to meet government requirements, shareholder and consumer demand or because it is the right thing to do for the planet.”
1. Make clear what sustainability benefit the product offers. Avoid vague language like ‘green’, ‘natural’, and ‘environmentally friendly’. Also, avoid technical language and technicalities (claims that are technically true but only if certain conditions are met in practice).
2. Substantiate your sustainability claims with facts and keep them up to date. Consider the entire lifecycle of a product when making claims and do not attempt to hide or downplay any negative impacts. Think about collaborating with reputable third-party certification bodies.
3. Comparisons with other products, services or companies must be fair.
4. Be honest and specific about your company’s sustainability efforts. Be transparent about products and environmental policies.
5. Make sure that visual claims and labels are useful to consumers and not confusing.