Academic criticises ‘misleading’ environmental label messages

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 9th February 2012

A Canberra-based law academic has called for tightening of Australian regulations for eco-labelling to stop “greenwashing”.

Dr Matthew Rimmer, an ARC Future Fellow and Associate Professor at the Australian National University’s College of Law, said “greenwashing” could be defined as “corporate spin which involves making misleading or deceptive claims that a company’s products or services are environmentally sustainable or friendly”.

Dr Rimmer said “the problem of greenwashing requires a robust, integrated approach to law reform”.

He said that there was a need for IP Australia and other trade mark offices around the world to take a stronger approach to greenwashing, “At the moment, IP Australia has been promoting green intellectual property, green trademarks and sustainable design. The register has been cluttered with words like ‘eco’, ‘clean’, ‘energy’ and ‘enviro’”.

On 13 February and 20 February, Leading experts FoodLegal are running intensive workshops in Sydney and Melbourne respectively, about “Going Green: The Law of Eco-Marketing” which is aiming to empower its participants to minimize legal risk exposure and take advantage of the legal mechanisms out there that to market the green credentials of fast-moving consumer goods. The details for each intensive workshop can be found here.

Given recent increased scrutiny of green claims by the ACCC, consumer groups such as CHOICE, market competitors and academics, the clarifying and substantiating of green claims has become an essential component of business risk management. Foodlegal believes its workshops will help improve the situation for many companies.