On 14 July 2023, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) published long-awaited draft guidance on its regulatory views on companies’ environmental and sustainability claims and their relevant obligations under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (i.e. Schedule 2, titled the Australian Consumer Law (ACL)). The draft guidance on environmental and sustainability claims contains various examples and eight guiding principles, with a particular focus on greenwashing.
Environmental and sustainability claims can, and currently do, have a significant influence on consumer and investor behaviour. The release of the draft guidance paper follows a recent uptick in regulatory action by the Australian Securities Investment Commission (ASIC) on greenwashing in late 2022 and 2023 so far (as discussed in our previous note in January 2023).
While the ACCC’s regulatory ambit primarily focuses on products and services and ASIC is responsible for financial products and financial services, these two regulatory bodies are working closely together on the detection and investigation of misleading or deceptive environmental claims.
Given this crackdown on misleading or deceptive statements relating to environmental issues, this draft guidance comes at a perfect time to assist you and your business when making environmental and sustainability claims, and this note highlights the key takeaways to keep in mind when making such claims.