Dutch businesses misleading consumers with sustainability claims: regulator
Businesses often mislead consumers with false or vague claims about their sustainability, according to the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM). The regulator is launching a campaign to make consumers aware of “green talk” and has also started another investigation into businesses’ sustainability claims.
“With vague or unjustified claims, companies pretend to be more sustainable than they really are. Consumers are influenced by the claims companies make,” ACM director Edwin van Houten said. The social media campaign will inform consumers that they can ask a company to clarify their vague sustainability claims and report them to the ACM for closer study.
A survey by the ACM showed that incorrect claims can cause consumers to mistakenly attribute a more sustainable image of a product, making them more likely to buy it due to an incorrect assumption. The ACM also found that consumers are more likely to believe an explicit claim - “This truck is 100% electric” - than a vague one like “green on the road.”
“Only with clear and correct information about sustainability are consumers able to make more sustainable choices,” the ACM said. “Companies should not pretend to be more sustainable than they are.”
The ACM also launched another investigation into the sustainability claims made by companies. After previous investigations into the textile industry and energy sector, this study will focus on the transport sector. According to the ACM, this sector uses many sustainability claims, has a high level of emissions, and consumers consider sustainability here when making purchasing decisions.
“Sustainable products and consumption are essential for a sustainable society,” the ACM said. “Consumers must be able to make a more sustainable choice with confidence. Companies committed to sustainability must be protected from companies that compete unfairly by using misleading claims.”