Legal

Another business snared in ACCC greenwash crackdown

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Listed Western Australian nappy maker Senevens International is the latest business to face legal action as part of the consumer watchdogs campaign against false environmental claims.

Listed Western Australian nappy maker Senevens International is the latest business to face legal action as part of the consumer watchdogs campaign against false environmental claims.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has launched legal action in the Federal Court alleging the company misled consumers by falsely advertising its disposable Safeties Nature Nappy as “100% biodegradable”.

Senevens executive director Charishma Seneviratne also faces legal action, with the ACCC alleging she was knowingly involved in or a party to the alleged deception.

The ACCC is seeking remedies including declarations and injunctions preventing further publication of the 100% degradable claim against Senevens.

The company announced a trading halt in its shares until Monday while it formulates its response to the allegations.

The ACCC flagged its intention to closely monitor the environmental claims made by businesses in advertisements earlier this year and has since prosecuted several firms for overstating their green credentials, a practice known as Greenwash.

In an effort to help businesses avoid the pitfalls of false environmental advertising, not for profit green group the Total Environment Centre yesterday published a Green Cred Checklist.

TEC director Jeff Angel says consumer cynicism caused by the rise of greenwash threatens to undermine the legitimate environmental claims of firms.

“We don’t want to scare producers from developing green products and advertisers telling people about their benefits. We want producers to regain credibility, and advertisers to help make green products the normal purchase for people,” Angel says.

TEC advises businesses to run through this quick four point checklist as a minimum before making green claims in marketing or advertising:

  1. If I make this green statement, can it be proven to be true 100% of the time?
  2. Even if the claim is true, does the green statement really matter – is the problem being avoided or remedied substantial and significant, or trivial and insignificant?
  3. Are there any other environmental or sustainability issues being overlooked, especially negative ones?
  4. Whatever is being claimed, and whoever is making the claims, are they backed up by firm evidence?

 

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