December 4, 2022

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Businesses making misleading environmental and sustainability claims will be targeted as part of an internet sweep designed to crack down on greenwashing.

More than 200 company websites across sectors identified as susceptible to greenwashing, including beauty, food, and fashion, will be reviewed for misleading claims.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will also look for fake online business reviews, with misleading reviews posted to business’ websites, Facebook pages and third-party review platforms targeted in an initial review.

Influencers may also feel the sting of future crackdowns, with failing to disclose advertising or sponsorship on social media considered as part of a second sweep.
Those found breaching the commission’s standards could face penalties, with the crackdown aimed at enabling customers to make informed purchasing decisions.
ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said the commission wouldn’t hesitate to take enforcement action where it was revealed consumers were being misled or deceived by green claims.

“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.

“Misleading claims about products or services undermine consumer trust and confidence in the market.”

Environmental and sustainability claims, as well as deceptive advertising and marketing practices in the digital economy, were named as the commission’s annual priority for 2022-2023.
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Ms Rickard said consumers were 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 crackdown on misleading reviews would help safeguard consumers against poor purchasing decisions, as well as protecting businesses.

Ms Rickard said review manipulation at the hands of competitors or third-party professionals acting on behalf of businesses could lead to an overall misrepresentation of the business.
“We are looking to identify businesses, review platforms or sectors where there is a pattern of misleading online reviews and testimonials that have the potential to cause significant consumer or small business harm,” she said.

“Well-functioning online markets are key to the modern economy. To realise the full benefit, consumers need confidence to engage with online businesses.”

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Alex covers science and environment issues, with a focus on local Canberra stories. alex.crowe@austcommunitymedia.com.au
Alex covers science and environment issues, with a focus on local Canberra stories. alex.crowe@austcommunitymedia.com.au
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