9 May 2023

Cry Wolf: Green Claims

Green Claims

The Green Claims code was brought in with the intention of stopping brands green washing their customers (for more information on what greenwashing is and how it impacts consumers, check out the article on the BPAK blog Greenwashing: Keep Your Packaging Inline). There were too many brands saying that their products and packaging were sustainable or ethical when they weren’t – due to there not being specific rules and measures in place for brands claiming to be green, governments and legal bodies have had to put them in place.


There have always been ethical certifications, such as FSC, the cruelty free leaping rabbit and Fair Trade label – but these are not only difficult certifications to achieve, many brands simply don’t have the time or the money or the patience to ensure their products and packaging meet the high standards. So the next best thing to do is give vague information inferring that the product and packaging are sustainably and ethically made, add in a few statistics that make everything look scientific and add some small print to keep the brand safe from legal action. Except that legal action has been taken on behalf of consumers and watchdog bodies for brands that mislead customers.¬†


For example in 2022 HSBC was pulled up by the UK governmental watchdog for doing a marketing campaign focusing on how it was replanting forests. The campaign didn’t say that while planting forests HSBC was also funding coal projects. As the biggest consumer bank in the United Kingdom they are among the top international advocates for fossil fuel. After being called out for misleading customers, HSBC pledged to reduce its thermal coal financing exposure by at least 25 per cent by 2025.


Different countries and unions have different Green Claims Codes, you can find a few of them below:

The American Green Claims Code

The European Union Green Claims Code

The UK Green Claims Code


What are the most important bits that you need to know from the Green Claims Codes? Here are the six key takeaways:

  1. Claims must be truthful and accurate
  2. Claims must be clear and unambiguous
  3. Claims must not omit or hide important information
  4. Claims must only make fair and meaningful comparisons 
  5. Claims must consider the full life cycle of the product
  6. Claims must be substantiated

The Green Claims Code is there to help your brand stay on the right side of the new legislation. It is also there to give consumers a way to understand how brands score their sustainability claims, how genuine the statistics and claims are.

If you would like to know more about what is happening with brands and sustainability, keep an eye on the BPAK blog. If you would like to get in touch with BPAK about your next packaging project, and our sustainable options – get in touch with the team via the Contact page.