By Martin Vedris

SYDNEY: The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) today declared that it will take a close look at the ‘green’ claims being made by companies in its marketing and advertising following a number of complaints it has received.

During his address at the ACCORD Conference 2007 for the cosmetics industry on the Gold Coast today, the ACCC Commissioner, John Martin, said there has been a steadily increasing number of inquiries and complaints around ‘green’ marketing.

“This trend is consistent with the growing trend for business to green market their goods and services,” Martin said. “Whether a business is promoting their ‘green’ motor vehicles, ‘green’ flights, or ‘green’ toilet paper,the Trade Practices Act 1974 consumer protection provisions apply.

“In light of the growing number of complaints, the ACCC is taking a closer look at a number of the green claims that are being made at the moment, and all businesses need to ensure they are not misleading their customers with such claims.

“Many incorrectly believe green marketing refers solely to the promotion or advertising of products with environmental characteristics. Terms like phosphate free, recyclable, eco-friendly, ozone friendly and environmentally friendly are terms consumers have in the past associated with green marketing.

“Green marketing claims, in the broader concept are now being applied to consumer goods, industrial goods, services, corporate activities, government activities, and so on. If there is a green-edge to be found, it will be exploited. Consumers across the spectrum are becoming more concerned and aware about the natural environment and hence businesses marketing goods with environmental characteristics will have a competitive advantage over businesses that do not.

“Businesses have long since recognised there is a competitive advantage to be had by appealing to the new green awareness of customers, and the latest and trendiest green marketing claims are the ‘carbon neutral’, ‘carbon offset’ and ‘carbon footprint’ claims.

“The ACCC intends to ramp-up its green compliance activities with a combination of business and consumer educative initiatives and targeted enforcement action.”