Government committee calls for standardisation in eco labelling to help tackle greenwash

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An EAC report calls for new measures to tackle greenwash.

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has attacked  the proliferation of environmental labelling for running the risk of ‘undermining consumer understanding and confidence’ in green products and services.

The Committee attacked the rise of ‘greenwash’ – the use of groundless green claims to promote a product – and called for Government to play a greater role in policing the use of environmental labels, possibly through the Environment Agency.

In its report, the EAC praised the simplicity of the Food Standards Agency’s ‘traffic light’ system to convey nutritional information to consumers, and suggested that carbon labelling should take a similar form.

‘In many ways, environmental labelling’s real potential lies not in changing consumer behaviour, but in changing business behaviour and thereby improving the sustainability of the manufacturing process and the products available to the consumer,’ the report says.

This article first appeared in the Ecologist April 2009