CHOICE says the new green code launched today by the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) includes useful rules, but will not be successful unless it is properly interpreted and enforced.
The new code, Environmental Claims in Advertising and Marketing Code, has been developed by the AANA over the past year using a consultative process to guide industry on self-declared environmental claims.
The move came in response to increased consumer concerns about greenwash - deceptive marketing designed to portray a company or product as caring for the environment.
A 2008 CHOICE investigation found that many examples of green claims on product labels were not supported by evidence, were poorly explained or were just plain irrelevant.
While this new Code is an advance, it leaves consumers dependent on the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) to enforce it, a self-regulated industry body.
Once implemented, CHOICE expects this Code will see very few green claims investigated satisfactorily. The ASB lacks the necessary expertise and clout to properly police green claims. In fact, claims that are highly technical are not forwarded to ASB Board for investigation.
“CHOICE sees several escape clauses in the AANA’s Code, giving advertisers and their lawyers too much wiggle room on dodgy green claims,” said Kate Norris, CHOICE Senior Sustainability Policy Officer.
“This code is designed to make a good first impression and ultimately prevent regulatory intervention by the government. Notably, the Code doesn’t cover labels or product packaging, which is where CHOICE found many poor green claims.”
CHOICE wants to see the standard for self-declared environmental claims (AS14021) updated and made mandatory.
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