Specialist communications agency and ASBP member Gusto and the Alliance for Sustainable Building Products (ASBP) have partnered to launch the Anti-Greenwash Charter in response to the alarming finding by the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) that up to 40% of green claims made online in 2021 could be misleading.
To support a response from the construction sector and help mitigate against any potential legal action an organisation may face, as a result of the CMA’s review, the Charter has identified four key standards that any entity should adopt to help counter the problem of greenwashing and adhere to the Government’s Green Claims Code: transparency, accountability, fairness and honesty. Ethics and transparency is one of ASBP’s Six Pillars of Sustainable Construction, which we believe underpin the sustainability of construction, and in turn helps to frame our activities.
“The findings of the CMA’s report are shocking but not wholly surprising. Since our inception ASBP has campaigned against greenwashing and continues to make the case for transparent and accurate product marketing. We welcome the introduction of the new Green Claims Code and look forward to working with Gusto on the Anti-Greenwash Charter to provide best practice guidance to encourage responsible communications within the construction sector.”
Richard Broad, Projects & Communications Manager, ASBP
Signing the Charter enables organisations from the sector to make a public commitment to uphold these standards and eradicate unsubstantiated ‘green claims’ from their marketing and communication campaigns, whilst also participating in a learning programme exploring how to promote their business more responsibly. Finally, to ensure the Charter’s standards are upheld, signatories will be subject to periodic reviews of their marketing practices, carried out by Gusto.
The Impact of Greenwashing
In recent years, there has been a significant and negative impact of misleading or false information on the speed of development of the UK’s sustainable built environment with, according to the UK Green Buildings Council (GBC), the construction industry still contributing approximately 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint in 2021.
Greenwashing itself can come in many different forms, from promises made about targets to over-optimistic product specifications but what is clear is that the public and customers alike have, at times, been subjected to poor standards of communication from within the UK’s construction sector.
In simple terms, greenwashing is hindering the dissemination of critical information needed to help us build more sustainably, and is therefore why a movement championing the use of more responsible messaging, is so critical.
Why Sign the Charter?
If an organisation upholds the highest standards of integrity and clarity when it comes to their marketing and communications, their commitment to sharing information responsibly should be recognised.
The Charter enables those organisations that are doing so to make a public commitment to continue to implement marketing and communications campaigns that uphold the following key standards:
- Transparency – a commitment to clear communication of what sustainability benefit a product or service offers, without concealment or omission of information.
- Accountability – sustainability claims will be substantiated with accurate and regularly evaluated empirical evidence.
- Fairness – a commitment to using fair, clear and unambiguous language when providing comparisons with products or organisations.
- Honesty – only specific statements about an organisation’s sustainability efforts will be made and actions will match those promises.
What Happens Next?
Organisations that wish to sign the Charter first have to complete a brief questionnaire about their organisation and marketing practices. Their responses will be reviewed and further research conducted by the Gusto team. Once adherence to the Charter’s standards has been substantiated, the signatory will be given permission to use the Anti-Greenwash logo on their branded materials to promote the quality of their communications. For those that need help developing their marketing practices, Gusto will offer free, strategic advice about how to market products and services responsibly.