UK firms told to clean up environmental claims

Government 'green claims code' to make labelling for consumers "clear, reliable, genuinely helpful"

A new green claims code which sets out standards of good practice to help businesses draw up environmental information for customers has been published in the UK. The environment ministry plans to carry out a survey later this year and publish some of the worst examples of misleading claims.

The code is designed to improve labelling, moving away from vague claims such as "environmentally friendly" to factual explanations of environmental benefits which are "clear, reliable and genuinely helpful to the customer," the ministry said in a statement. The guidance is in line with the new international standard on environmental labelling and declarations, ISO14021.

The government believes that consumers have a role to play in highlighting unhelpful or misleading claims and has published a shocking pink leaflet to help them pick the good from the bad.

Last year the national consumer watchdog called for voluntary guidelines for green claims on products to be made legally binding after it found that there had been little improvement in the standards of "clarity, honesty and relevance" of claims a year after the voluntary guidelines came into effect (ENDS Daily 8 October 1999).

Follow Up:
UK Environment ministry, tel: +44 207 944 30 00 and press release. Copies of green claims code available from detr@twoten.press.net. Copies of ISO14021 available from British Standards Institution, tel: +44 208 996 90 01.

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