Have you bought a product labeled "environmentally friendly," but are not certain that the claim is true? The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MoEP) is publishing a guide to prevent so-called "greenwashing," the marketing of companies, products, and/or services as "green" that are not actually beneficial for the environment.
Among other things, the guide will outline how and when a company can claim that its product is biodegradable, made from recycled material, etc. Companies that violate the rules may be sued in court.
A draft of the guide (in Hebrew only) is currently available for the review of the public. Public comments on the guide are welcome, and can be sent – until June 30, 2013 – to firstname.lastname@example.org
On May 27, 2013, the ministry published a draft of its "Guide to Prevent the Misleading of Consumers about Environmentally-Friendly Products." It is asking for public comments on the draft.
Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz: "We are doing everything possible to ensure that the ‘fake’ green era will end. We will no longer allow the label "green" to be used in vain. Just because a factory paints its chimneys green, that does not lessen the pollution coming out of those chimneys. If a neighborhood paints its fences green, that does not mean it acts in an environmentally-friendly way. If a company wants to claim that its product is beneficial to the environment, it will have to explain how, and present evidence."
The ministry has found that Israeli manufacturers and importers regularly, and incorrectly, label their products as environmentally-friendly. For example, a survey found that 94% of cleaning products call themselves "green." The MoEP is not ready to accept this phenomenon of "greenwashing," especially since the public is often willing to pay more for a "green" product, yet does not get what it pays for.
Within a few months, the ministry will publish a final guide, which will take into account public comments, in order to prevent such greenwashing.
Below are some of the principle guidelines from the draft, which are being presented on Monday, May 27, at a conference on the issue of greenwashing:
- A manufacturer who wishes to claim that a product is made from recycled material must mark on the package the percentage of recycled material, which must meet a minimum threshold.
- If a product is marked as biodegradable or as made from recycled material, there must be a notation as to which standards institute has confirmed this, or an indication of what laboratory tested and confirmed it. This information must be included on the packaging, on the company’s Internet site, or available at the company’s customer service center.
- A product marked as intended for reuse should indicate an estimated number of times that it can be reused.
- A company that claims its product is "environmentally friendly" will have to present evidence of this. If it cannot do so, it may be subject to enforcement procedures and/or to civil lawsuits.
A Hebrew copy of the draft is attached below. The ministry is welcoming public comments on the draft, which can be sent to email@example.com until June 30, 2013.