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Green Marketing - Shaky Ground

Danny Ruspandini - Impact Labs Australia
Danny R.

The ACCC has produced a set of guidelines around green marketing in Australia - it’s called “Green Marketing and the Australian Consumer Law”.

In a nutshell, it basically says don’t be misleading, and don’t make stuff up, then goes on to talk about being specific and accurate in lots of different ways.

Two paragraphs about being misleading stood out to me:

  • Putting 'made from recycled material' on a product when only a part of the product (such as the packaging) is made from recycled material could be misleading by silence.

This is super common - I don’t believe it’s always intended to mislead, as I know there are some companies genuinely trying to do good but overlooking the bits that aren’t “green”... but plenty of others simply do this to tick sustainability off their to-do list.

  • Business names could be misleading if they imply green credentials that do not exist. For example, a business that promotes itself as an environmentally responsible energy company using a name such as 'Completely Clean & Green Energy' may be at risk of misleading its customers if it in fact produces energy from an unclean source.

I’d call this more intentional - and it’s also common. I’ve spoken with service providers in cleaning, pest control and other service spaces who include words like “Eco” in their business name. It’s possible they genuinely believe they are “cleaner” than the competition, and possibly because they do a handful of things in a more responsible way - which is awesome - but naming your whole business in such a way is a very bold statement that honestly, very few organisations on the planet could live up to.

In both cases, this is where I believe a published sustainability program can provide great value.

If you do make bold statements that you don’t quite meet yet, a published program provides a space for you to talk about them as goals. This also allows people an opportunity to look into you, and see that you actually back up what you say - even if you haven’t quite hit the goal yet.

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