The guidance, developed together with the Office of Fair Trading and representatives from the retail and advertising industries, offers tips to ensure that environmental claims are accurate and can be substantiated.
The guidelines are aimed at combating a “confusing array of advertising labels”, Defra said.
“Our guide will make things easier for both business and consumers – helping restore public faith in environmental advertising and acting as a resource for companies developing more sustainable products,” environment minister Lord Marland said.
Defra based the guidance partially on research that it commissioned, which found that customers understood phrases such as “energy efficient” and “recycling” better than some others such as “negative carbon footprint”.
The agency’s guidelines warn companies to avoid vague “green” terms.
“It’s in everybody’s best interest that sustainable products are legitimately promoted to replace less sustainable alternatives,” Marks & Spencer corporate sustainability manager Rowland Hill said.
The U.S. government is also working to update green advertising standards through proposed revisions to its Green Guides, which advise advertisers on sustainability claims.
- Opinion: Stoel Rives associate Joseph Eckhardt says producers, resellers, and consumers of “green” certificates and credits should take notice of the evolving federal guidelines.