Market your environmental credentials

Making environmental claims


Environmental or 'green' claims are a way of providing environmental information about a product. Your business may want to make a claim about an environmental aspect of your product, component, product packaging, literature or advertising. Examples of environmental claims include '100 per cent recycled' and 'CFC-free'.

Should I make an environmental claim or not?

First, it is important to establish whether there are any specific legal requirements that require you to communicate environmental information. However, this does not stop you making additional self-declared environmental claims. If you're not sure about legal requirements, you should contact the Northern Ireland Trading Standards Service.

If you make claims about your products or services, you must ensure these are accurate to avoid falling foul of trading standards or the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The ASA can take action against false or misleading claims.

For any claim to be credible, you should make sure that you can back it up - otherwise you may do your business' reputation more harm than good. The claim should not lead customers to believe that your overall environmental performance is reputable based on one - or an unreasonably narrow - set of attributes.

Make an effective environmental claim

If you want to make an effective 'self-declared' environmental claim you should follow some basic rules.

You should ensure the content of your claim is relevant and reflects a genuine benefit by:

  • considering the full environmental impact of your product, service or organisation
  • checking the claim is relevant to those environmental impacts, or your business and consumer interests
  • checking the claim reflects an additional benefit to the environment beyond what is already happening in the market or what is required by legislation
  • ensuring any comparisons made to other products on the market are fair, with the basis for comparison clearly stated on the claim

When you present your claim, you should ensure that:

  • it is presented in a truthful and accurate way that would not mislead consumers
  • the scope and boundaries of the claim are clear, it uses plain language that is specific and unambiguous
  • relevant supporting information is clearly presented and not buried in 'small print'

You may want to use a logo or picture on your product to present your claim, eg the recyclability logo (called the Mobius loop). However, you should make sure that its meaning is clear and relevant - the overall effect of the wording and imagery should be clear and not misleading.

To ensure your claim is accurate and can be readily substantiated, you should:

  • be able to back up your claim, eg keep any documentation and evidence
  • reassess and update the claim as necessary
  • base it on the best agreed standards available
  • ensure any claims about aspirations of future performance are also supported with evidence and action
  • retain information used to substantiate a claim so that it can be made available upon reasonable request

You can find practical guidance on how to make a good environmental claim.