ACCC Report: Greenwashing by businesses in Australia Findings of the ACCC’s internet sweep of environmental claims

This report outlines the findings of the ACCC’s 2022 internet sweep of environmental claims. It details the key issues identified in the sweep, and provides an overview of the ACCC’s planned work relating to environmental claims and sustainability.


Sustainability is a topic of critical importance both in Australia and internationally. There is significant community support for the transition to a Net Zero economy, and to solve problems relating to climate change, emissions reduction, and product durability and recyclability. Consumers are also increasingly interested in purchasing sustainable or environmentally friendly products.

These sentiments are reflected in government commitments relating to emissions and waste reduction. The use of environmental and sustainability claims is also becoming more common in the marketing of consumer goods. However, there are concerns that a significant proportion of the claims made by businesses may be false, misleading, or have no reasonable basis. This is often known as ‘greenwashing’.

Sustainability claims may be made in a variety of ways:

  • Product specific claims: These may appear on packaging, websites, advertisements or social media posts by influencers.
  • Company-wide claims: These will generally appear on websites or in corporate social responsibility statements and reporting documents.
  • Claims using logos and symbols (including certification trademarks): These can appear on product packaging, websites, or advertisements.

More consumers are now using sustainability claims to make purchasing decisions. However, consumers cannot readily verify the accuracy of a business’ environmental credentials and must trust the claims or impressions made.

Environmental or sustainability claims will only help consumers make informed purchasing decisions if the claims are clear, are not misleading and do not omit relevant information. A misleading, meaningless, or unclear claim breaches consumer trust and hurts confidence in both the claim itself and sustainability claims in general. Businesses genuinely pursuing more sustainable products and services often incur additional production or research costs. This fact combined with consumers’ increasing interest in purchasing sustainable products means false or misleading sustainability claims unfairly disadvantage businesses making genuine claims. This undermines effective competition and can create a disincentive for businesses to invest in sustainability.

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