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Pickler's guidelines on how to prevent greenwashing
Pickler's guidelines on how to prevent greenwashing

Based on the guidelines from ACM, Pickler advises considering the points described in this article before making green claims.

Tess Heeremans avatar
Written by Tess Heeremans
Updated over a week ago

Pickler follows closely the advise of the the Autority for Consumers & Markets (ACM).

In this article it is described what Pickler does to prevent greenwashing. However, some of the guidelines from ACM reach beyond the scope of the software. Therefore, our aim is also to inform the users as much as possible on how to prevent greenwashing.

Based on the rule of thumbs of the ACM, the guidelines that are important to consider for Pickler users are summarized below.

1.Make clear what sustainability benefit the product offers.

  • Actively prevent that de consumers prevent your claims incorrectly. Avoid jargon, instead use easy-to-understand language.

  • Do not use subjective words such as the ‘greenest’ or ‘cleanest’, but factful neutral terms or it should be substantiated.

  • The more general, the higher the burden of proof. Avoid phrasings and claims that say that the packaging offers a general/absolute benefit. Not use, general terms such as “eco”, “environmentally friendly”, “clean”, “green”, “good for the environment”, “non-pollutive “, “honest”, “fair”, “responsible”, “organic”, “ethical”, “sustainable”, “ozone-friendly”, “environmentally safe” and so forth without further detailing the specific sustainability benefits of the product.

  • You need to present the information behind the benefits as close to the general claim as possible. The consumer should easily find a link to the corresponding eco forecast generated by the Pickler software.

  • Be honest about the amount of the benefit, is it is a small improvement it should be presented as such

  • A claim can not be a general feature of similar products, it should be a benefit that goes beyond what is required by statutory requirements (law)

  • Be careful when using specific and statutorily protected terms, such as ‘organic’., ‘carbon-neutral’, ‘eco-friendly’ and so forth. For example, an organic product should exist from > 95% organic matter.

  • A CO2-compensated product is not a green product! It should be clear that it is CO2-compensated.

2. Substantiate your sustainability claims with facts, and keep them up-to-date.

  • Make sure that the input data is always backed up with up-to-date proof.

  • A direct link to the eco forecast should be present along with the green claim on your packaging or site.

3. Comparisons with other products, services, or companies must be fair.

  • You must explicitly state what you compare your product or company with (see also how to make green claims).

  • You can only compare the sustainability aspects of your product or production process with the previous product or production process of your company, or with the comparable product or production process of another company or with the generally accepted standard in the sector.

4. Be honest and specific about your company’s efforts with regard to sustainability.

  • Distinguish between the sustainability aspects of your product, and those of your company or brand. You cannot use any claims about the company to make a product seem sustainable or the other way around.

  • You will have to make a specific claim instead of a general claim; concerns the entire company, the production process or a production phase?

  • sustainability aspects of your company must be proportional to the actual sustainability efforts and impact on human rights, animal rights and the environment

  • You can only make a claim about future goals (scenario products) for marketing purposes targeting consumers if you have a clear, concrete, and verifiable strategy for achieving those goals. When sustainability initiatives are still in those very early stages, you need to avoid making these types of claims.

5. Make sure that visual claims and labels are useful to consumers, not confusing.

  • The more labels the more confusing it is for consumers. Use the label created by Pickler to communicate the eco score of your product.

  • Only use the colour green or the pictograms of a tree or leaf when there is a direct and verifiable relationship between the displayed object and the claimed sustainability benefit.

Find the ACM's full document with the revised guidelines here.

While we strive to provide accurate and reliable information through the Pickler application, we cannot guarantee its accuracy or completeness. Users are solely responsible for any decisions or actions taken based on the results generated by the Pickler application and should exercise caution and seek expert advice where necessary.

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