by Steve Earl, Partner at BOLDT
Did you hear the story about the company making compostable, biodegradable, non-toxic plastic-neutral products being given the seal of approval over its net zero offsets as part of a regenerative strategy?
Let’s hope not. Because that paragraph was littered with words increasingly being marked out as greenwashing no-nos.
The US Federal Trade Commission published guidance on the use of environmental marketing claims at the end of last year. While not law, they’re legally enforceable – whatever that means in practice. More importantly for many readers of this, the European Union is likely to follow a similar path.
This piece in Greenbiz covers the FTC’s rationale, and gives examples of companies and sectors that may have to rethink some of the language being used.
Words that the commission cautions against are:
- Carbon offset
- Certified by/seal of approval by
- Free of
- Less waste than/less toxic than
- Made with renewable energy/materials
- Recycled content
Others to think more than twice about are apparently ‘clean’, ‘conscious’, ‘low carbon’, ‘net zero’, ‘plastic neutral’ and ‘regenerative’. Which rather muddles things for purveyors of cleaning products, or indeed any business that has made any form of net zero commitment, whichever way it plans to measure that.