AN annual sweep of websites, which gives consumer authorities across the world the opportunity to target fraudulent, deceptive or unfair conduct online, has shown a large proportion of ‘green’ claims could be misleading.
As part of the latest sweep – led by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) – almost 500 websites promoting products and services across a range of sectors, including clothes, cosmetics and food, have been analysed.
It was found that four in 10 of these websites appeared to be using tactics that could be considered misleading and therefore potentially break consumer law. These included:
- Vague claims and unclear language including terms such as ‘eco’ or ‘sustainable’ or reference to ‘natural products’ without adequate explanation or evidence of the claims.
- Own brand eco logos and labels not associated with an accredited organisation.
- Hiding or omitting certain information, such as a product’s pollution levels, to appear more eco-friendly.
Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, said: “Too many websites appear to be pushing misleading claims onto consumers, which means that companies offering products with a genuine environmental benefit are not getting the customers they deserve.
“People should be able to easily choose between those companies who are doing the right thing for the environment and those who are not.
“This is a global issue, so it’s only right that we look at it in a global context. Our joint work with other regulators will help us identify the big issues facing consumers and protect people from paying a premium for fake ‘eco-friendly’ products.”