Aylesbury BOX Company | Environmental Claims Under Scrutiny
The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has recently published a code of conduct to tackle greenwashing in the UK. Does your brand genuinely offer sustainable packaging and products?
sustainable packaging, greenwashing, environmental claims, packaging, environmental impact, eco-alternatives to plastic, recyclable packaging, packaging suppliers, cardboard boxes,
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Environmental Claims Under Scrutiny


Environmental Claims Under Scrutiny

Brand commitments, consumer influence and Government targets are shifting focus towards design, production, use and reuse which reduces environmental impact. Products that claim to be eco-friendly influence purchasing decisions, so going green is a good move for business.

The majority of consumers want to make purchases that are ethically sourced and recyclable, so they are switching to brands that are tackling environmental and social issues. Being able to promote eco-products and sustainable packaging boosts sales and this has led to some brands making unsubstantiated environmental claims.

What is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is the term associated with false or misleading information that suggests a product or packaging has better eco-credentials than it does. As an example, an item of ‘recyclable’ packaging may require very specific conditions or processes, which are not available at the majority of recycling centres. Technically, it can be recycled, but it is highly unlikely to be.

The phrase greenwashing is credited to environmentalist Jay Westerveld, in response to a Samoan resort that promoted the reuse of towels ‘to help save the planet’.  The construction of the hotel had destroyed natural habitats and no measures for renewable energy or rainwater harvesting had been factored into the architectural design. This token gesture made it look like the resort owners cared about the environment, yet all evidence suggested otherwise.

Mr Westerveld first used the term in 1986. Since then, the reputation of many brands has been damaged by greenwashing, yet the practice continues. We read words like ‘natural’ ‘conscious’ ‘more energy efficient’ and ‘green’ on packaging and labels, but it’s harder to find quantifiable data or percentages.

Comply with ASA Guidance

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has recently published a code of conduct to tackle greenwashing in the UK. The list of acceptable actions for brands making environmental claims includes:

  • Making the basis of claims and the meaning of terms clear
  • Basing claims on the full life cycle of the product or packaging and its overall environmental impact

The ASA is investigating whether recyclable and biodegradable packaging can be broken down using widely available processes. When the entire life cycle is considered, is plastic sometimes less impactful than some of the eco-alternatives to plastic?

The ASA has already challenged brands that have made false or misleading claims. This includes Gousto’s (now retracted) statement about using 100% plastic-free and recyclable packaging. They have set up a team to actively researching the truth behind absolute claims, such as ‘net zero’ or ‘carbon neutral’. Can the brand provide evidence to justify such statements?

It is widely agreed that this type of regulation is necessary for customers, retailers and the environment. Customers should have clear messages that empower them to make informed decisions. Legitimately green brands should not be in the shadow of greenwashing competitors.

Promote Genuine Eco Credentials

Brands are at different stages in the process in ethical sourcing, resource efficiency, waste minimalization and other environmental gains. Your brand may be some distance from becoming net-zero or having 100% recycled packaging, but still, be making moves in the right direction.

Feel free to inform customers about the steps being implemented, but be honest. Get clued up about your suppliers – question the credentials of the materials or products you purchase. Ask them about alternative options that help you to fulfil brand commitments.

Look into your investors or event sponsors; do their ethics match with your green vision?

A genuine approach to the challenge will be viewed with more positivity than the public discovering misleading claims or a connection with an unreputable partner.

Sustainable Packaging Suppliers

If you are looking for sustainable packaging, the Aylesbury Box Company team can assist. We can provide information on the recycled content in our cardboard boxes and recommend alternatives to plastic fillers. Contact us on 01296 436888 or enquiries@abcbox.co.uk to see if we can help you to take the next step in becoming greener.

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