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In recent years, there has been a growing global concern about environmental sustainability and climate change. Consumers are increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of their purchasing decisions, which has led to a rise in the demand for eco-friendly and sustainable products and services. However, this trend has also given rise to a concerning phenomenon known as greenwashing, where companies mislead consumers by presenting their products or services as more environmentally friendly than they actually are. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has been taking decisive action to curb greenwashing and ensure transparency and accuracy in environmental claims made by businesses.

Understanding Greenwashing

Greenwashing involves the deceptive use of environmental marketing or advertising to give a false impression of a product’s or service’s environmental benefits. Companies engaging in greenwashing may exaggerate their environmental initiatives, misrepresent their environmental impact, or provide vague or misleading information to deceive consumers who are seeking environmentally sustainable options. This misleading marketing can have detrimental effects, as consumers may make purchasing decisions based on these false claims, ultimately undermining their efforts to contribute positively to the environment. It can also create an unfair advantage for businesses that genuinely prioritize sustainability and adhere to environmentally friendly practices.

ACCC’s Role in Addressing Greenwashing

The ACCC, as Australia’s competition regulator and consumer law enforcer, plays a vital role in ensuring fair and accurate business practices. Recognizing the growing concern of greenwashing, the ACCC has been actively monitoring and addressing misleading environmental claims made by businesses across various industries. The commission has been enforcing the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), which prohibits misleading or deceptive conduct and false representations. The ACL also includes specific provisions related to environmental claims, making it illegal for businesses to mislead consumers through false or misleading statements about the environmental characteristics of their products or services.

Recent Actions by the ACCC

The ACCC has taken several measures to clamp down on greenwashing and promote truthful environmental claims:

Guidelines and Education: The ACCC has provided guidelines and educational resources to help businesses understand their obligations regarding environmental claims. These resources aim to raise awareness about the importance of accurate environmental advertising and encourage businesses to uphold transparency.

The Draft Guidance: Eight ‘compliance principles’ are identified to assist businesses in providing clear, accurate, and reliable (or ‘trustworthy’) information to consumers and comply with the ACL when making environmental and sustainability claims.

  1. Make Accurate and truthful claims.
  2. Have evidence to back up your claims.
  3. Don’t leave out or hide important information.
  4. Explain any conditions or qualifications on your claims.
  5. Avoid broad and unqualified claims.
  6. Use clear and easy-to-understand language.
  7. Visual elements should not give the wrong impression.
  8. Be direct and open about your sustainability transition.

Investigations and Enforcement: The ACCC conducts investigations into companies suspected of greenwashing. Where misleading environmental claims are identified, the ACCC takes enforcement actions, including imposing penalties and requiring corrective actions to rectify the false representations.

Engagement and Cooperation: The ACCC actively engages with businesses and industry stakeholders to collaborate on addressing the issue of greenwashing effectively. By fostering cooperation and dialogue, the ACCC encourages a proactive approach to ensuring accurate environmental claims.

Consumer Awareness Campaigns: The ACCC runs public awareness campaigns to educate consumers about greenwashing and empower them to make informed choices. These campaigns emphasize the importance of scrutinizing environmental claims and reporting suspected cases of greenwashing.


The ACCC’s commitment to tackling greenwashing is a crucial step in fostering a marketplace where businesses operate with transparency and integrity. By taking firm action against misleading environmental claims, the ACCC aims to protect consumers, promote fair competition, and encourage genuine environmental sustainability efforts within the Australian business landscape. Consumers and businesses alike must remain vigilant in challenging greenwashing and supporting efforts that genuinely contribute to a more sustainable future.

Bronwyn Reid | September 2023