Puzzling claims

Monday 15 April 1996

-- DO ECO-MARKS and green logos endorsed on products really help the consumer to make an environment-friendly choice? May be not. A recent survey by the National Consumer Council in UK has found that green claims on products had the consumers baffled. Sample a few: Dishwasher liquid: "Easy on the environment"- Clear Spring; Bleach bottle: "This bottle is made of polyethylene and contains more than 25 per cent recycled plastic" - Domestos; and Water: "The Hildon source lies deep within chalk hills... fully protected from the environment" - Hildon.

Such confusing statements only made the consumers cynical and most even gave up trying to purchase green products, according to the survey. The concept of recy- cling was something which led consumers to think twice on buying the product. Almost all products apparently had recycled logos. The report stated that "while in theory plastic bottles and cans are recyclable - almost everything is - in practice, very few local authorities have the facilities to recycle either. So unless the consumer takes them to a special collection centre, the claim will be meaningless." Therefore, it concludes that environmental claims are "often woolly, unverifiable, open to multiple interpretations, of no real benefit, or downright dishonest."

The survey also found that buyers tended to respect those statements backed by well JAghll', known organisations like the World Wide Fund for Nature (wwF) or the Friends of the eye Earth. The report finally suggests that the should be a legislation to bring such dubious claims to book, or else, to create a separate T4 environmental claims act.

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