Posted: April 20, 2010
Written by: Philip Watts
It ain’t easy being green, but it’s easy to claim that you are. Although it would be absurd for a law firm to seriously claim that their services could reverse global warming, it is common for businesses to make claims about how their business is environmentally friendly. As Earth Day approaches on April 22, many businesses will promote their business as green, renewable, earth conscious, sustainable, or enviro-friendly providing energy efficient, eco-design products or services.
These claims are easily made, but unless they can be substantiated, the business making the claim will be violating the advertising provisions under the Competition Act. When unfounded environmental claims are made by businesses, consumers are misled and competitor businesses which actually invest the time and money into sustainable practices lose their “enviro” advantage in the marketplace.
Businesses making environmental claims may be required to prove the validity of the claim; if the claim is unsubstantiated, the business could be fined or be subject to other remedies. An example of these other remedies can be found in the case of retailers which sold hot tubs in Canada with the Energy Star logo when in fact the hot tubs did not meet the criteria to have the logo. Over the last year a number of these retailers have entered into consent agreements with the Competition Bureau which included a term that the retailers must notify customers that the hot tubs they installed do not meet the energy star criteria. I’m sure some of these customers are reminded of that fact every month when they get their electrical bill.
A good resource is Environmental claims: A guide for industry and advertisers which has been jointly provided by the Competition Bureau and the Canadian Standards Association. If you are unsure whether making an environmental claim will cause you legal troubles, get the advice you need before you make the claim.