HL Deb 03 March 2003 vol 645 cc88-9WA
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How they measure the effectiveness of the Green Claims Code they introduced in 1998; in what ways they are deterring bad practice with regard to green claims; and how many times since 1998 they have done so; and [HL1642]

In what ways they support the efforts of businesses which are acting responsibly on green claims. [HL1643]

Lord Whitty

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs commissions market surveys to assess the effectiveness of the Green Claims Code. We have commissioned two since its publication. The first,The Green Claims Code: is it working?, was carried out in 1999 by the National Consumer Council (available on the NCC's website at www.ncc.org.uk/pubs/ green.htm). The second, A survey of environmental claims and declarations made on consumer products, was carried out in 2001 by Ecotec Research and Consulting (available on the department's website at www.defra.gov.uk/environment/consumetprod/accpe/reseach/index.htm).

The general findings are that only a small proportion of products in the market offer any form of environmental declaration. Where claims are actually made the quality varies considerably. The most recent survey indicated that about half met the standards in the code, but about 40 per cent did not and about 10 per cent were borderline.

There are regulatory and advisory measures which serve to deter bad practice in green claims. Legislation is available to deal with claims which are demonstrably false or misleading under the Control of Misleading Advertising Regulations 1988 and the Trade Descriptions Act 1968. No information is collected centrally about cases brought under this legislation. The Green Claims Code also advises on practice which should be avoided by those placing information on the market.

The Green Claims Code is also designed to help business make good green claims by giving advice on best practice. As well as issuing and promoting the code, we have published a consumer information leaflet (Hi I'm Green) which provides advice to the public on what claims to look out for and how to take up claims they think are unhelpful or misleading. Together the code and leaflet will increase consumer awareness about the standard of information they should expect and should start to demand from manufacturers and retailers; and will help consumers to identify which businesses are performing to a good standard.