ACCC seeks input on environmental and sustainability guidance

On 14 July 2023, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) published the Environmental and sustainability claims – Draft guidance for business (Draft Guidance).  The Draft Guidance aims to assist businesses in making of environmental and sustainability claims to avoid the risk or misleading or deceptive behaviour.

Why change existing guidelines on environmental and sustainability claims?

The last guidance material produced by the ACCC was published in 2011.  Being over a decade old, the material does not adequately reflect a consumer law landscape that has significantly evolved.  This is evident as the ACCC, and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) have had an increased focus on actively pursuing action against greenwashing since early last year.   ACCC’s Deputy Chair, Catriona Lowe, said:

“proposed response to climate change, environmental and sustainable initiatives, which are all common words in boardroom meetings these days”.

Additionally, the changes come as a response to findings of the ACCC’s 2022 internet sweep of environmental claims.  This sweep consisted of 247 businesses across a wide range of sectors and revealed that 57% of businesses involved have potentially made misleading and deceptive environmental or sustainability claims.

What is the ACCC seeking input on?

The Draft Guidance is open for comment until 15 September 2023 where interested parties can make a submission to the ACCC by completing the online survey.  The ACCC is seeking input on the processes behind deciding when and businesses should make environmental or sustainability claims.   In addition, the regulator is seeking input on whether the Draft Guidance published previously provides sufficient instruction to facilitate those decisions.  ACCC Chair, Gina Cass-Gottlieb, said:

“Our draft guidance sets out what the ACCC considers to be good practice when businesses make environmental claims about their products and services as well as making them aware of their obligations under the Australian Consumer Law.”

Why is the ACCC seeking input?

This provides the chance for stakeholders to participate in the consultation process.   ACCC Chair, Gina Cass-Gottlieb, said:

“We would like to hear from businesses on whether our draft guidance improves their confidence in making legitimate environmental and sustainability claims as well as if they have seen concerning green claims made by other businesses.”

Links and further references

Related articles

What are the ACCC’s 2023/2024 enforcement priorities?

Greenwashing: the ACCC’s new priority

ASIC commences legal proceedings alleged green washer

Greenwashing – Infringement notices to Black Mountain Energy Ltd

Related resources

ACCC announcement: Environmental and sustainability claims – Draft guidance for business

Environmental and sustainability claims – Draft guidance for business (Draft Guidance)

ACCC 2022 internet sweep of environmental claims

Environmental and sustainability guidance – Online Survey

Further information

If you need advice on compliance with Australian Consumer Law or Greenwashing in particular, contact us for a confidential and obligation free and discussion:

Malcolm Burrows Lawyer

 

Malcolm Burrows B.Bus.,MBA.,LL.B.,LL.M.,MQLS.
Legal Practice Director
Telephone: (07) 3221 0013 (Preferred)
Mobile: 0419 726 535
e: mburrows@dundaslawyers.com.au

 

 

Disclaimer

This article contains general commentary only.  You should not rely on the commentary as legal advice.  Specific legal advice should be obtained to ascertain how the law applies to your particular circumstances

 

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