Is The New Green Claims Code The New GDPR?

  • 5 months ago

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has recently issued its new Green Claims Code to help businesses communicate their environmental or green credentials without misleading consumers or breaching existing laws.

But as it gets set to come into force from January 2022, many brands are still unsure of how this guidance affects them. 

This is problematic. Especially since the CMA is doing a big old review of green claims both online and offline in order to seek out greenwash. 

So what‘s the big deal? Well if a business is found to be greenwashing they will not only face action from the CMA and Trading Standards but they risk massively damaging brand reputation. It’s absolutely vital organisations audit their current messaging to make sure they’re not elevating their green credentials or making false claims. However, for those brands who are genuinely operating with purpose at their core, and communicating transparently, there’s a real opportunity. Those who have been doing the work to mitigate their social and environmental impact and have the data to back up their claims will have so much to gain. This is the time to shine. 

With the launch date looming and the confusion mounting, we think this feels a little familiar, don’t you agree? 

“If a business is found to be greenwashing they will not only face action from the CMA and Trading Standards but they risk massively damaging brand reputation.”

Remember when GDPR was introduced. This led to a mad panic from brands and businesses as they tried to get their head around the rules and how this would impact their business. Coming into force on 25th May 2018, GDPR (or General Data Protection Regulation) has overhauled how businesses process and handle data.

It was designed to “harmonise” data privacy laws and provide greater protection and rights to individuals. But the launch sparked concern about big fines and reputational damage for those caught in breach of the rules. And when the laws came into effect, many brands weren’t prepared. Despite the countless webinars, talks and guidance, GDPR is still confusing for businesses and many are still unsure of the rules.

Deja vu?

This confusion is real. Throughout 2021 we actually saw an increase in GDPR fines issued. In fact, between July 2020 and July 2021 number of violations increased by 113.5% (Finbold) and the fines recently issued to Amazon (€746 million) and Whatsapp (€225 million) massively exceeded the previous record fine (Google €50 million). This is serious stuff. 

It’s no wonder then that with the looming new Green Claims Code deadline, and the threat of action from the CMA, many brands are rushing to get their ducks in a row. Because just like GDPR, this affects businesses of all shapes and sizes. And It’s not just marketing campaigns that will be scrutinized either. The code applies to all businesses and covers advertisements, product labelling and packaging or other accompanying information, including product names. In short, it’s the whole shebang. 

So as we slide ever closer to the 2022 deadline, it’s time to get your house in order. Check your messaging, analyse your claims and review if your comms are honest and transparent. Because with pages of advice and guidance, there really are no more excuses. 

It’s vital to check your messaging, analyse your comms and understand if you’re making misleading claims. And if you’re struggling with communicating your environmental credentials authentically… then it’s time to switch things up.


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