The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published its Green Claims Code to help businesses understand how to communicate their green credentials while ensuring any environmental claims comply with law and don’t mislead consumers.

The code – part of a wider awareness campaign the CMA launched ahead of COP26 – focuses on six principles based on existing consumer law and stresses that companies making green claims mustn’t ‘omit or hide important information’ and ‘must consider the full life cycle of the product’.

The CMA will undertake a full review of misleading green claims in early 2022. It says it wants to ensure businesses feel confident navigating the law in this area but is ready to take action against offending firms, and may take action before the review begins if there’s clear evidence of consumer law breaches.

We’re concerned that too many businesses are falsely taking credit for being green

“More people than ever are considering the environmental impact of a product before parting with their hard-earned money,” says Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, in a statement. “We’re concerned that too many businesses are falsely taking credit for being green, while genuinely eco-friendly firms don’t get the recognition they deserve.

“The Green Claims Code has been written for all businesses – from fashion giants and supermarket chains to local shops. Any business that fails to comply with the law risks damaging its reputation with customers and could face action from the CMA.”

Added Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth, Greg Hands: “Millions of UK households are rightly choosing to switch to green products as they look to reduce their carbon footprint. But it’s only right that this commitment is backed up by transparent claims from businesses. The competition regulator’s new code will help to ensure this with advice on how best to communicate and understand environmental claims.”

Last year, the CMA investigated the impact of green marketing on consumers and found that 40% of green claims made online could be misleading.