What to consider when making environmental claims in advertising

Svensk Handel – Swedish Trade Federation – organized a webinar in March on what is important to consider when making environmental claims in advertising. There are several rules in marketing and environmental labeling that are important to keep track of. This is an area that is prioritized for oversight where a lot is happening now in Sweden.

What to consider when making environmental claims in advertising

Rules for marketing

The Marketing Act and the International Chamber of Commerce's rules (ICC) for advertising and marketing communications contain general provisions for how a seller may market their goods in all forms of business. The ICC Code is an internationally recognized framework across all industries and countries that forms the basis of self-regulatory bodies and legislation worldwide. With the help of that code, companies can be sure that their marketing communications are responsible and ethical.

The use of environmental claims

If you look at the Marketing Act, it regulates that environmental claims must not be misleading. It must be presented in a specific and clear manner that is accurate and unambiguous. When you make the assessment, you look at the overall impression that the average consumer gets. There are high evidentiary requirements when it comes to environmental claims. There must be clear and unambiguous claims that can be substantiated. You must be able to prove that it is true and relevant and can be checked.

An environmental claim creates the impression that a product or service has a positive or no impact on the environment, or a smaller environmental impact than a competitor's corresponding product.

Environmental labels

If you want to use one of the various eco-labels, you must meet the requirements that generally apply to environmental claims in addition to the criteria for the eco-label itself. This applies to both own and independent labels. The criteria for the labelling must demonstrate clear environmental advantages compared to competing products. It is also important that the labelling is clear and unambiguous for the consumer, otherwise the meaning must be explained. It is important that the explanation must be in the immediate vicinity of the claim so that it is certain that they are read together, it is not enough to have it published somewhere on the website.

Svensk Handel recommends preferably using third-party certifications as evidence, as own certifications can be more difficult to use.


Greenwashing is not allowed, but has increased as consumers increasingly try to buy environmentally friendly products. Within the EU, various dubious environmental claims have been scrutinized in more detail.

A clothing company states that a t-shirt is made from organic cotton even though only 50% of the t-shirt was made from organic cotton. An online store offers the possibility to filter the clothing range according to sustainability. The clothes shown have the term "sustainable choice" next to them, but they do not explain what is sustainable about the garments shown.

Environmentally friendly, green, sustainable, climate smart or other claims that give the impression that a product has no, or only positive environmental impact may only be used if they can be proven in a convincing manner.

To have in mind

In conclusion, Swedish Trade gives tips to consider when using environmental claims in your marketing.

  • Do not use environmental claims that are misleading even if they are accurate.
  • Make sure the information can be proven with facts.
  • Make the marketing clear with unambiguous information in direct proximity to the environmental claim.
Sofia Winterlén

Sofia Winterlén Head of Marketing