Ministry to unveil anti-‘greenwashing’ guidelines

The Environmental Protection Ministry seeks to put end to phenomenon of misleading consumers about environmental friendliness.

May 27, 2013 03:54
2 minute read.
Recycling in Tel Aviv

Recycling in Tel Aviv 370. (photo credit: Abra Cohen)

The Environmental Protection Ministry is determined to put an end to what it feels is an all-too-prevalent business phenomenon of misleading consumers regarding environmental friendliness.

To accomplish this goal and bearing the slogan “green is not just a color,” the ministry will publish on Monday a draft guide to prevent consumer deception when purchasing allegedly environmentally friendly products – otherwise known as “greenwashing.”

Partaking in this dishonest practice is widespread among Israeli manufacturers, importers, advertisers and marketers, according to ministry tests. Within a few months, after receiving public commentary on the guide, the ministry will release a final version that will be legally binding.

“We are doing everything in order for the green era pretending to stop,” Environmental Minister Amir Peretz said on Sunday. “You cannot carry the name green in vain.

If a factory paints its chimneys green, it does not mean that pollution decreases, and if a neighborhood builds green gates, it does not mean that this is a green neighborhood.

If a company wants to claim that its product is really beneficial to the environment, it will have to explain how it contributes to it and present evidence.”

The contents of the guide are in part based on ISO 14021, a standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization in 1999 and updated in 2011, which provides detailed information on how to present environmental labels and declarations.

The guide details how and when a product can be deemed biodegradable and made from recycled materials, making sure that they meet the minimum threshold percentage of such materials. On these products, a confirmation from a standards institute or a presentation of laboratory tests must appear on the packaging, the website or the service center of the company, the ministry said.

A product intended for reuse must estimate the number of times that a customer should be able to reuse it, as well as ensure that there is a mechanism for the company to collect their reusable products in Israel and abroad.

Companies that violate any of these guidelines will be subject to legal proceedings against them, the ministry warned.

“Whoever claims that a product is ‘environmentally friendly’ will require factual evidence to back this,” the ministry said.

If relevant tests cannot provide such evidence, the company will not only risk misleading the public, but also will be subject to enforcement procedures as well as civil claims, the ministry added.

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