Canada Ad Watchdog Releases Green Marketing Guidelines

by | Jun 29, 2008

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csa1.jpgA new guide (PDF) from the Canadian Competition Bureau of the Canadian Standards Association provides the business community there with green marketing guidelines.

While the guide is not law, the Competition Bureau says it will not hesitate to pursue deceptive environmental claims, fine violators or remove products from store shelves.

According to “Environmental Claims: A Guide for Industry and Advertisers,” the use of vague claims implying general environmental improvement are insufficient and should be avoided; environmental claims should be clear, specific, accurate and not misleading; and environmental claims should be verified and substantiated, prior to being made.

But some say the voluntary nature of the rules means consumers still can’t trust messages displayed on product labels, the Globe and Mail reports.

Douglas Macdonald, of the University of Toronto’s Centre for Environment says that, since companies have been using images associated with nature, freshness and cleanliness to promote their products for decades, Canada should adopt rigorous standards similar to those in place for food labels in order to reduce false or misleading claims.

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority released its Annual Report 2007 in May. The ASA said it dealt with record numbers of complaints about environmental claims as advertisers increasingly sought to promote their ‘green’ credentials. Complaints about environmental claims more than doubled year on year with 556 complaints about 408 ads.

The Federal Trade Commission has announced the third in a series of public workshops being held as part of the agency’s regulatory review of the “Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims,” commonly known as the Green Guides. The Commission’s first Green Guides workshop, held in January, examined issues concerning the marketing of carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates. The most recent workshop, held in April, examined green packaging claims.

In May, Futerra Sustainability Communications released a guide (PDF) that analyzes the current state of greenwash and what’s being done about it.

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