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ICC Marketing Code forbids greenwashing

The Swiss Fair-Trade Commission condemns misleading greenwashed advertising based on the ICC Marketing Code.

In July, the Swiss Consumer Protection Foundation filed complaints against three companies (Hipp, Kübler and Elite Flights) for unfair advertising with the Swiss Fair-Trade Commission. The complaints concerned misleading advertising slogans such as "climate neutral" or "climate positive". The Swiss Fair-Trade Commission approved the complaints on 31st October 2023 against Hipp and Kübler and recommended that they refrain from using the offending statements. Neither company has been able to provide any evidence to support their published claims.

In reaching its decision, the Swiss Fair-Trade Commission referred to the ICC Marketing Code. The Code states that marketing communication or visual representations should not contain any statement or visual treatment likely to mislead consumers in any way about the environmental aspects or advantages of products, or about actions being taken by the marketer in favour of the environment.

The ICC Marketing Code, established since 1937, sets global standards for ethical advertising and marketing. The Code plays a leading role in combating greenwashing and ensuring ethical and truthful marketing practices in relation to environmental claims. It relies on strict standards to avoid misleading advertisements, endorsing legitimate initiatives towards sustainability and environmental accountability. This practice is highly regarded and pivotal when it comes to consumer protection as the recent decision of the Swiss Fair-Trade Commission shows.