Environmental Claims Advice

Advice to businesses on environmental and green claims

Green- what does it mean?

Environmental and green claims are becoming increasingly common in advertising with promises of ozone safe and environmentally friendly products.

Phrases such as 'environmentally friendly' are used to encourage those consumers worried about the effect we're having on the environment to purchase. Suffolk Trading Standards want to make sure environmental claims are justifiable.

Green claims that are made by businesses in regards to their goods or services should be:

  • Truthful, accurate, and able to be substantiated.
  • Relevant to the product in question and the environmental issues connected with it.
  • Clear about what environmental issue or aspect of the product the claim refers to.
  • Explicit about the meaning of any symbol used in the claim.
  • In plain language and in line with standard definitions.

The International Standard (BS EN ISO 14021) states that certain phrases should not be used at all, such as “environmentally safe”, “environmentally friendly”, “non polluting”, “green”, “nature’s friend”, and “ozone friendly”

The Standard also controls the following claims and requires certain criteria to be met for there use:

Other terms covered are:-

  • compostable
  • degradable
  • designed for disassembly
  • extended life product
  • recovered energy
  • recyclable
  • recycled content
  • reduced energy consumption
  • reduced resource use
  • reduced water consumption
  • reusable and refillable
  • waste reduction

As a green claim should not:

  • Be vague or ambiguous, for instance by simply trying to give a good impression about general concern for the environment.
  • Imply that it commands universal acceptance if there is actually some significant doubt or division of scientific opinion over the issue in question.
  • Imply more than it actually covers, if the claim is only about limited aspects of a product or its production, or does not deal with a significant issue for that type of product.
  • Make comparisons, unless the comparison is relevant, clear and specific.
  • Imply that a product or service is exceptional if the claim is based on what is standard practice anyway.
  • Use language that exaggerates the advantages of the environmental feature the claim refers to.
  • Imply that the product or service is endorsed or certified by another organisation when it has not been.

Essential Packaging Requirements

The Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2003 (as amended) require the person responsible for the packing or filling products into packaging or for importing such packaged products to ensure the packaging meets the essential requirements and is within the heavy metal concentration limits.

The Essential Requirements are, in summary:

  • Packaging volume and weight must be the minimum amount to maintain necessary levels of safety, hygiene and acceptance for the packed product and for the consumer.
  • Packaging must be manufactured so as to permit reuse or recovery in accordance with specific requirements.
  • Noxious or hazardous substances must be minimised in emissions, ash or leachate from incineration or landfill.

Heavy Metal Limits

Aggregate heavy metal limits apply to cadmium, mercury, lead and hexavalent chromium in packaging or packaging components subject to some exceptions. The total by weight of such metals should not exceed 100 ppm.


Trading Standards Officers may assess the compliance of any packaging by requesting technical documentation on both the essential requirements and the heavy metal limits. This documentation must be produced within 28 days of any such request being made.

To read more about Trading Standards visit our homepage.