This report provides a brief review of how national government policies and guidelines apply to or regulate the use of environmental labelling and information schemes (ELIS) in selected OECD countries. The report reviews definitions relevant to environmental claims and identifies four types of potentially false or misleading environmental claims. The report also reviews countries’ different approaches to guidance and regulations relating to such claims, as well as approaches to monitoring and enforcement of compliance with rules and guidance. Examples of court action relating to the use of consumer protection laws for environmental claims in several countries are described. Based on the reports available, it is not possible to assess to what extent the enforcement processes have been effective in improving the overall quality of environmental claims. The report also notes the extensive similarities in how different national guidelines categorise misleading environmental claims, perhaps beacuase many of the guidelines are derived in part from the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) 14020 series of internationally-agreed standards. Moreover the report acknowledges that several attempts have been made towards harmonisation across countries concerning environmental criteria, mainly concerning eco-labelling schemes and organic agriculture standards. There appear to be strong incentives for this type of cross-country certification, including reduced administrative costs and a potential for increased trade of environmentally-certified goods. This makes further harmonisation of criteria for self-reported environmental claims a real possibility. The ongoing pursuit of harmonisation regionally, or bilaterally, might be a first step forward in such a process.
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Environmental regulation, green marketing, greenwashing, environmental sociology
Sociologist with a broad, human scientific interest in social, economic and evolutionary dimensions of environmental and health related problems.
Department of Sociology Lund University Visiting address: Sandgatan 11, House G, Lund Postal address: Box 114 , SE-221 00 LUND, SWEDEN Telephone: Student Office +46 46-222 88 44, Lund University Switchboard +46 46-222 00 00