ACCC to crack down on 'greenwashing'

Internet checks will be run by the nation’s competition and consumer watchdog to crack down on businesses making false „green“ claims and numeric online reviews.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has announced at least 200 company websites will be reviewed for misleading environmental claims.

Two internet sweeps will be undertaken over the coming weeks.

The sectors to be probed include energy, vehicles, household products and appliances, food and drink packaging, cosmetics, clothing, and footwear.

ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said misleading claims undermined trust in the market.

„As consumers become increasingly interested in purchasing sustainable products, there are growing concerns that some businesses are falsely promoting their environmental or green credentials,“ she said on Tuesday.

„The ACCC won’t hesitate to take enforcement action where we see that consumers are being misled or deceived by green claims.“

One of the sweeps undertaken by the ACCC will be directed at fake or misleading online reviews.

At least 100 businesses will be covered by the sweep, which will scan reviews on Facebook pages and third-party review platforms.

Advertising by influencers on social media deemed to be misleading, will also be considered, with a focus on posts that fail to disclose advertising or sponsorship.

Ms Rickard said consumers relied on testimonials when making purchases.

„Unfortunately, consumers are facing an ever-increasing range of manipulative marketing techniques designed to exploit or pressure them, due in part to the huge number of online information sources available,“ she said.

The findings will be published once they have been analysed.