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98% of Green Claims Misleading, says Watchdog

April 17, 2009: 06:56 AM EST
Greenwashing appears to be a “growth industry” in North America, according to a recent analysis of product claims. Environmental marketing firm TerraChoice says that only about 1 percent (25 of more than 2,000) products were “indisputably sin free”. The rest employed misleading environmental ads or claims – referred to as “greenwashing” in environmental circles. Cleaning products, cosmetics and children's toys and products are the most common suspects, says TerraChoice, which has a contract to oversee Environment Canada's EcoLogo certification program. Lack of proof, vague language and "hidden trade-offs" are the most common transgressions of guidelines introduced last year by the Competition Bureau of Canada. Companies are also implying they have third-party certification by using official-looking logos and badges. The guidelines don’t require third-party certification. In some cases, as with claims for "bisphenol-A free", there is no independent certification scheme.
Catherine Porter, "Eco-friendly labelling? It's a lot of 'greenwash'; 98% of product claims fail 'sin-free' test, marketing experts say ", The Toronto Star, April 17, 2009, © Toronto Star
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