What's Green?

Reader Contribution by Jessie Fetterling

Words like “green”, “environmentally friendly”, “all natural” and “eco” have become common descriptions for what we’re all supposed to look for as consumers. But they don’t really mean anything. They’re as useless as describing a person, saying that they “have hair” or are “wearing a T-shirt.” These environmental descriptions need a definition, and that’s why Canada has made an effort to provide one.

The Competition Bureau and the Canadian Standards Association recently created Environmental Claims: A Guide for Industry and Advertisers to help improve accuracy for such claims in today’s business world. It says that environmental claims will soon need to meet the same requirements as advertising and labeling claims and are now subject to their same laws, such as the Competition Act, the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and the Textile Labelling Act. The guide specifically addresses claims that say a product is “recyclable” and “biodegradable.” These claims will need to have supporting data that is “accurate and readily available to law enforcement agencies.” If they don’t, individuals or corporations can be fined or even serve prison time, depending on how severe the penalty.

The Bureau is allowing for a one-year transition period while companies re-work any needed advertising campaigns. At that time, Canadians will have to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to advertising “green” products. But they can look forward to a more “environmentally friendly” Canada.