Government issues guidance on green claims

New guidance on the claims which businesses make for their products' green credentials was issued by the Trade and Industry and Environment Departments in December.1

As well as general guidance, which adds to the Government's voluntary green claims code, the package includes more detailed advice for makers of aerosols, paints, greetings cards, cleaning products and growing media.

A survey of green claims commissioned by DEFRA in 2001 found that these were the sectors in which the code was most poorly observed. Of the general green claims that made up over half of the voluntary declarations found, 40% did not comply with the code.

The effectiveness of the Government's voluntary approach to green claims is open to question. Five years after ENDS first highlighted the misleading claims on Symphony Environmental's degradable refuse sacks, the product is still being sold, bearing the same claims, in supermarkets such as Tesco.

DEFRA has also launched an e-mail newsletter and website, "Pitching Green", aimed at "getting the message about good practice" to businesses.2 It has also published a shopper's guide explaining the range of reliable green symbols seen in UK shops.

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