Green claim or Greenwash?

What is greenwash?

Greenwash is the practice of making false, misleading and/or deceptive claims about the environmental practices of a company or the environmental attributes of its goods and/or services.

This includes environmental claims that are inaccurate, vague, irrelevant or false or do not tell the full story about the impacts of the goods or services. These claims can include direct statements, logos or images associated with the goods or services.

Greenwash can lead to the continuation of negative environmental practices, despite purchasers thinking they are doing the right thing by the environment.

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, ‘vague, unsubstantiated, misleading, confusing, false or deceptive claims serve the opposite purpose. They reduce consumers’ confidence in environmental claims, disadvantaging ethical traders’.

ECO-Buy's approach

Part of ECO-Buy’s service to its members is providing a list of genuine green products on the ECO-Find database. Listing on ECO-Find requires suppliers to provide independent verification of their environmental claims, thus creating a more valuable tool for our members and others seeking green products.

This also helps strengthen the market for green products, supporting the many suppliers whose products have genuine environmental claims, and making it harder for those suppliers relying on greenwash to build their sales.

 How can I avoid being greenwashed?

You can find more information about greenwash in the Sustainable Procurement Guide (2013) that ECO-Buy developed to assist Australian Government purchasers to include sustainability considerations in all stages of the procurement process. Refer to the ‘greenwash’ section, pages 39 – 44.