The ACCC has announced two internet sweeps to identify misleading environmental and sustainability marketing claims and false or misleading online business reviews and a separate sweep to target false or misleading online reviews and testimonials.
The ACCC announced on 4 October 2022 that it would conduct two investigations over the coming weeks to identify ‘greenwashing’ claims. The investigations are being carried out as part of the ACCC’s compliance and enforcement priorities for 2022-23 announced earlier this year, with the broad aim of identifying misleading advertising and marketing practices relating to the environment and sustainability.
At least 200 company websites will be reviewed by the ACCC in a variety of industry sectors, including energy, vehicles, household products and appliances, food and drink packaging, cosmetics, clothing and footwear. The ACCC has indicated that where it identifies that consumers are being misled or misled by green claims, it will not hesitate to take enforcement action.
At the same time, the ACCC will also conduct a separate sweep of internet reviews and testimonials focusing on misleading practices in the digital marketplace. The ACCC stated that the sweep will target false or misleading reviews posted on business websites, Facebook pages and third-party review platforms.
The ACCC announced a wide range from a variety of sectors. Companies must review representations made by them online to ensure that any representations, particularly regarding the environment or sustainability, are accurate, honest and can be substantiated. This may include, for example, claims about the environmentally friendly nature, features or characteristics of products provided by the company or about sustainable practices of a company or the services it provides (including claims of carbon neutrality or increased circularity).
In terms of substantiating claims, ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard noted in a speech in September this year that it was important for businesses to be able to back up the environmental claims they make “whether through credible scientific reports, transparent supply chain information, trusted third parties certification, or other forms of evidence”.
If contacted by the ACCC, participants should consider their responses carefully and ensure that any information provided to the ACCC is accurate.
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