Online retailers’ “green” claims are regularly exaggerated, false and even illegal according to a new study of hundreds of brands.
A study into 344 “dubious” claims of sustainability made by online stores found that retailers often “pull the wool over consumers’ eyes with vague, false or exaggerated claims”, Reuters reported.
The European Union and national consumer protection authorities, who conducted the investigation in November, found 42 per cent of claims were likely to be false, deceptive and possibly illegal.
The majority of these claims failed to offer enough information for these claims to be substantiated, while a further 37 per cent used non-specific, vague terminology.
“Terms such as ecological, organic, and environmentally friendly were used frequently and without substantiation,” the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) said.
Environmental law charity ClientEarth’s lawyer Johnny White added: “Big companies with environmentally damaging business practices, like fossil fuel businesses, are spending huge amounts on reputational advertising… to mask their environmental impact credentials.”
The EU is expected to use the results of this investigation to inform legislation which will impose minimum mandatory requirements for sustainability claims.