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Competition Bureau issues green marketing guide

The Competition Bureau, in collaboration with the Canadian Standards Association, has released a publication called Environmental Claims: A Guide for Industry and Advertisers. The guide sets out expectations of businesses that make environmental claims and offers guidelines on the use of such claims. The purpose of the guide is to ensure consumers are not misled about the "greenness" of a product or service. The guide addresses several commonly used "green" claims and provides examples of how such claims can be made without misleading consumers. Among other recommendations, the guide states that vague claims implying general environmental improvement should be avoided. Environmental claims should be clear, specific and accurate. Also, environmental claims should be verified and substantiated prior to being made. "Consumers should not be misled by false environmental claims," said Sheridan Scott, commissioner of bureau. "Businesses should not make environmental claims unless they can back them up. In the end, this will benefit legitimate businesses and consumers by bringing greater accuracy in advertising to the marketplace." The bureau intends to institute a one-year transition phase for businesses to change their marketing practices if necessary, but the organization has also stated its intention to "pursue egregious cases of deceptive environmental claims" during this phase.

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