TechUK – the UK’s digital trade association representing IT giants and start-ups – has called on companies to check their green credentials and make sure they stand up to scrutiny.
The warning comes as UK companies have been urged to revise their green claims or risk public humiliation and enforcement action from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Companies have until the New Year to ensure that their environmental claims – such as those regarding energy consumption, packaging, recycling, and product life cycle assessments – comply with the law and do not are not just an exercise in greenwashing.
As part of its efforts to guide companies, the CMA has issued a six-point code of green claims with the aim of making it clear that anyone making environmentally friendly claims “must not omit or hide information. important “and” must consider the entire life cycle of the product.
The CMA targets sectors that some viewers may see as fruit at their fingertips, including textiles and fashion, energy-intensive travel and transportation, and fast-moving consumer goods.
However, any sector and the companies that operate in it – including technology – could fall under CMA’s crosshairs.
In a statement, Andrea Coscelli, CEO of CMA, said: “We are concerned that too many companies are wrongly taking the credit for being green, while genuinely environmentally friendly companies are not getting the credit for being green. the recognition they deserve. Any business that does not comply with the law risks damaging its reputation with customers and could be subject to prosecution by the CMA.
However, there are concerns that the new rules could lead to confusion. In testimony to the CMA, techUK said the six principles set out in the guidelines were “not specific enough” and also called for more information to help tech companies. He also warned that different variables performed in life cycle assessments could lead to misleading results. [PDF].
In a statement, Susanne Baker, Associate Director for Climate, Environment and Sustainability, techUK, told us: “CMA’s advice is important for any company making a green statement regarding its services, products and business. business. With more green claims than ever made by the tech industry, it’s absolutely vital that they aren’t seen as greenwashing.
“Businesses have until the New Year to fix this problem and will need to think carefully about any green claims they make, make sure they can justify it, that they are not misleading and that they are true. and accurate, ”she said.
The CMA announced last year that it was investigating the impact of green marketing on consumers when it discovered that 40% of green claims made online could be misleading, suggesting that thousands of companies could be in violation. the law.
In June, The register reported how a plastic shortage – rather than a desire to protect the planet – could be one reason recycled plastics can find its way into laptops and other gadgets.
Amazon recently found itself rebuffing claims from a whistleblower alleging it had dumped unsold goods in a landfill, and then bragged about achieving lower carbon “intensity” in its business practices. The latter claim was dismissed by an unimpressed scientist close to The Reg who pointed out that the fact that Amazon’s business was growing was not “good for the Earth”, and the fact that it polluted less per unit of activity did not change the end result “to know that they pollute more this year than last year. “
Meanwhile, Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently announced that the electric car maker will stop accepting Bitcoin payments for its vehicles, due to the “increasing use” of fossil fuels, especially coal, to support Bitcoin mining and energy-intensive transaction processing.
A report sponsored by Intel by the nonprofit Resilience First, in June highlighted the role of technology in achieving net zero carbon emissions targets. However, chipmaking has been a dirty business, with a 2002 study finding that a single 2g semiconductor chip required 1.6kg of secondary fossil fuels and 72g of chemical inputs to put into production. . ®