The annual report from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has found that around 40% of green claims made online may be misleading consumers.

The annual assessment of almost 500 websites, hosted by the International Consumer Protection Enforcement Network (ICPEN) and led by the CMA and The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), found that 4 in 10 websites could be in breach of consumer law.

The survey, which analysed websites offering various products and services that appeal to consumers’ green demands such as clothes, cosmetics, and food, revealed evidence of misleading tactics designed to take advantage of ethical spending trends. These included the following.

  • Vague claims and unclear language including terms such as “eco” or “sustainable” or reference to “natural products” without adequate explanation or evidence of the claims.
  • Own brand eco logos and labels not associated with an accredited organisation.
  • Hiding or omitting certain information, such as a product’s pollution levels, to appear more eco-friendly.

All UK consumers are safeguarded by The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 which prohibits misleading actions and misleading omissions as unfair commercial practice.

The CMA has confirmed it will publish guidance in the summer supporting businesses in the transition to a low carbon economy, while ensuring that consumers get the information they need.