Canada to Release Green Advertising Guidelines

Canada to Release Green Advertising Guidelines

Businesses advertising green products in Canada will soon have to back up their environmentally friendly claims under stricter guidelines in the works.

The Competition Bureau and Canadian Standards Association are planning to release national guidelines on the use of recycling, chemical-related and other environmental terms, according to the Globe and Mail.

The new guidelines, currently in draft form seeking industry comments, will prevent companies from making vague claims, requiring any statement to include specifics. Instead of simply saying a product is recycled, a company will have to say how much of its content is from recycled materials. Companies will also not be allowed say products are free of chemicals or substances if the products didn't previously contain those items, according to the paper. Any eco-friendly statements that do end up products will have to be backed up with data.

The guidelines were spurred by consumer complaints and the dearth of green claims being made on products, the Globe and Mail reported. The Competition Bureau, an independent law enforcement agency, has already taken action against one company's environmental claims. In November 2007 the Bureau forced Vancouver-based Lululemon Athletica to remove any references to the therapeutic benefits of its VitaSea clothing products because it made claims that could not be verified. The clothing's advertising said it would release minerals and vitamins in to the wearer's skin when wet and could improve skin in a variety of ways and reduce stress.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is also in the process of updating its guidelines for environmental marketing by holding workshops to get consumer input on terms like recyclable, biodegradable and sustainable along with perceptions of third-party certification of green claims.