Eco- labels. Have you ever seen them? Perhaps on a new fridge, or a tin of Tuna, or a Timberland shoe box? Environmental labelling has increased in the last few years but do companies even know what to say? Yesterday DEFRA released their updated guidance document – the Green Claims Guidance report.
Green claims and labels can help consumers to make informed decisions on what they’re buying by providing information about the environmental impact and qualities of products or services, either on a product or in marketing and advertisement of the product.
Credible labels can go a long way to helping a company enhance their credentials and demonstrate that they are acting responsibly to their consumers, business partners and to regulators. Most importantly they can drive the market towards products with a reduced environmental impact (low CFC Fridges for example).
In summary the Green Claims Guidance outlines a three-step approach for businesses to follow to assure their labels are credible. These are:
1. Ensure the content of the claim is relevant and reflects a genuine benefit to the environment
2. Present the claim clearly and accurately.
3. Ensure the claim can be substantiated.
The third step, substantiation of eco-labels, is essential with so many business claims in the past falling foul of having no data to back them up.
Despite DEFRA’s publication of the report A Shopper’s Guide to Green Labels and a range of apps such as barcoo appearing to help the consumer purchase responsibly consumer interest in eco-labels remains limited and at best niche. But consumer preference isn’t integral to the impact eco-labelling can have. The pressure for eco-labels has in the past been driven by the NGO sector with some of the most successful campaigns proving crucial in changing the sourcing policies, the products and services, and even the entire strategy of many high profile brands. Validating the sustainability claims of big business is essential to moving the sustainability agenda along and eco-labels will always have an important role to play.