In an increasingly environmentally conscientious world, it is key that businesses realise the potential for success in raising their environmental standards.
Small changes may lead to financial savings, new business, improved customer confidence, access to funding and increased profits.
Simple steps such as using natural light or going to paperless billing could help reduce business costs and detrimental environmental impacts.
Survey data shows that 62% of UK respondents agreed that they made a conscious effort to purchase green products(1) and this is an increasing trend(2). 43% of people made an effort to look on a pack to see if a product was environmentally friendly(3) with 26% prepared to pay more for an environmentally friendly product(4).
So with this growing market what are Trading Standards departments doing to help businesses succeed?
Local Authority ‘Trading Standards’ departments are the enforcement body for the Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2003.
Reviewing your packaging and transport materials at all levels of your business to ensure that it meets the essential requirements could increase business success. Consider, can it be minimised, redesigned, or recovered, what environmental impact will it have after disposal and can this be reduced – it is a requirement that you keep records to evidence your work? Compliance could lead to lower costs, for example in raw materials, waste and logistics. Non compliance could result in an unlimited fine.
Promote your product and make it easy for your customers to understand whether it benefits the environment; ISO 14021:2001 and DEFRA’s Green Claims Guidance will help businesses understand their responsibilities and explains when certain ‘green claims’ can be used and how they can be substantiated. Certain products are required to display mandatory energy labelling for example many new household appliances.
Claims should be accurate, verifiable and relevant. Vague or misleading claims can be reported to Trading Standards departments who have powers of investigation under the consumer and business protection legislation they enforce.
The UK has a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. All businesses can do their part to help achieve this figure and may enjoy added success as a result.
Rachael Holden is Lead Officer for the Environment at the Trading Standards Institute
References to ‘Trading Standards’ departments as enforcement bodies refer to the local Weights and Measures authorities in Great Britain and Dept of Enterprise Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland.
Relevant legislation enforced by Trading Standards departments includes (non exhaustive):
Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2003 as amended
Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008
Energy Information Regulations 2011
Passenger Car (Fuel Consumption and CO2 Emissions Information) Regulations 2001
Complaints about businesses should be directed to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service 08454 040506
- 1. Landor (2009) Image Power Green Brands Survey
- 2. 57% of respondents to (1.) above said they purchase more green products than they used to and research by Consumer Focus, citing The Cooperative Bank. The Ethical Consumerism Report 2008, showed 54% of respondents were buying more environmentally responsible products that they were two years ago.
- 3. Fletcher, J. and Downing, P. Consumer understanding of green terms: A report to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Brook Lyndhurst & Icaro Consulting, for Defra, London. 2011
- 4. Fletcher, J. and Downing, P. Consumer understanding of green terms: A report to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Brook Lyndhurst & Icaro Consulting, for Defra, London. 2011