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National Consumer Week: CTSI warns public of 'greenwashing' pitfalls

National Consumer Week: CTSI warns public of 'greenwashing' pitfalls

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) warns the public about the pitfalls of misleading green claims concerning products and services during National Consumer Week.

CTSI, as part of the Consumer Protection Partnership (CPP), kicked off its annual consumer awareness week, which runs between Monday 6 December - Sunday 12 December by encouraging people to stay safe when going green. Citizens Advice most recently highlighted that 19 million people were targeted by a green scam over the past year.

While many scams use the green agenda as a platform, there are also numerous instances of misleading claims, both intentional and unintentional, made about products, popularly known as 'greenwashing'. There is currently no set definition of what greenwashing entails, but broadly speaking, it is when a product or service is presented as more environmentally friendly than it is.

As the public becomes more conscious of green issues and makes purchasing decisions influenced by the green agenda, the issue of misleading claims becomes increasingly impactful. According to a 2021 Deloitte study, 34% of consumers look for strong sustainability credentials in products they buy, while according to Which? this year, 40% of green claims made online could be misleading consumers.

Last month, in response to the growing issue of greenwashing, CTSI launched an infographic discussing the issue and tips for the public on what to look out for. 

CTSI Chief Executive, John Herriman, said: "Greenwashing, both intentional and accidental is an emerging issue that is becoming increasingly important as the public becomes more sustainability-conscious and the net zero agenda advances. 

"Any concerns about green claims should be shared with Citizens Advice as this reporting allows authorities, including trading standards, to get a clear picture of the scale of this issue. It also allows regulators to spot trends and engage lawmakers on providing better legislation for protecting the public in this nascent market."

For consumer advice in England and Wales, please call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133. Welsh language speakers can call 0808 223 1144. 

If in Scotland, contact Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000, or if in Northern Ireland, contact Consumerline on 0300 123 6262. 

The public is encouraged to join Friends Against Scams, an initiative aiming to protect and prevent people from becoming scam victims by empowering them to take a stand against scams.

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