Campaign to Prevent Greenwashing - Using Unsubstantiated Claims of Environmental Sustainability
Respected companies that use greenwashing claims damage consumer perceptions of paper and put at risk the livelihoods of more than 7 million people in the North American paper, print and mail sector.
April 22, 2022
The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has published a series of recommendations for brands, marketers and advertisers to ensure their environmental claims are credible among consumers and can be backed up if challenged by regulators. The global organization, which represents marketers responsible for 90% of global marketing communications spend around the world, aims to provide marketers with a clear set of principles and best practices to follow when they communicate the actions their companies are taking to drive more sustainable outcomes.
The WFA has identified six core principles that brands should follow:
Claims must not be likely to mislead, and the basis for them must be clear.
Marketers must hold robust evidence for all claims likely to be regarded as objective and capable of substantiation.
Marketing communications must not omit material information. Where time or space is limited, marketers must use alternative means to make qualifying information readily accessible to the audience and indicate where it can be accessed.
Marketers must base general environmental claims on the full life cycle of their product or business, unless the marketing communication states otherwise, and must make clear the limits of the life cycle.
Products compared in marketing communications must meet the same needs or be intended for the same purpose. The basis for comparisons must be clear and allow the audience to make an informed decision about the products compared.
Marketers must include all information relating to the environmental impact of advertised products that is required by law, regulators or Codes to which they are signatories.
A Pledge for the Planet
The six core principles are part of the WFA's Planet Pledge initiative, which encourages brands to commit to a zero-carbon economy and use their marketing to drive more sustainable behavior. There are currently 27 signatories to the pledge, including brands such as Bayer, Dole, IKEA, L'Oréal, Mastercard, PepsiCo and Unilever, who collectively represent over $50 billion in marketing spend.
"Current consumer skepticism of environmental claims and marketers' fear of greenwashing are together the biggest obstacles to our industry being part of the solution to the climate crisis," said Stephan Loerke, CEO of the WFA. "Big reductions in CO2 emissions have occurred on the back of technology and innovation; the next big advance needs to be driven by behavioral change. This is where marketers can help. This guidance is an essential first step to creating an environment where marketers and consumers can feel more confident about companies' sustainability credentials."
A Growing Movement
The WFA principles reinforce established environmental marketing guidance from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Canadian Standards Association and International Organization for Standardization (ISO 14021), as well as the efforts of the Two Sides Anti-Greenwashing Campaign.
"Two Sides is the only industry organization that directly challenges major corporations to stop using unsubstantiated environmental claims about paper products," says Two Sides North America President Kathi Rowzie. "Respected companies that use greenwashing claims damage consumer perceptions of paper and put at risk the livelihoods of more than 7 million people in the North American paper, print and mail sector. Greenwashing also distracts from a company's legitimate environmental initiatives and can damage corporate reputation when misleading claims are exposed."
Over the past decade, Two Sides North America has persuaded 157 major corporations and other organizations to stop using unsubstantiated environmental claims about paper, leading to the removal of billions of instances of greenwashing.
To learn more about the Two Sides Anti-Greenwashing Campaign, visit https://twosidesna.org/anti-greenwash-campaign/
Download the WFA Global Guidance on Environmental Claims 2022 at http://www.wfanet.org/leadership/planet-pledge