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Using Best Practices in Environmental Compliance to Augment Brand & Increase Sales

By Webb Ward
Posted: 7th April 2014 08:45

Claims of reduced environmental impact enhance a consumer's assessment of any product in the market.  There is increased acceptance in today’s organisations that adopting green policies like minimising the use of resources and reducing carbon footprint contribute to increased profits.  However, businesses need to be careful with the statements they stick on their product labels or marketing campaigns.  The wrong strategy will not only get a business on DEFRA’s watchlist.  It can also cause consumers to treat a product or organisation with doubt and mistrust.

The following best practices in eco-compliance have been used successfully to boost consumer confidence:

Be Clear: When writing eco-claims, use plain language that is easy to understand.  It is easy to misinterpret technical terms or even confuse customers with them.  Ensure that claims are not ambiguous or overly general.  DEFRA warns against using vague statements like “Environmentally Friendly” etc.

Any Claims Should Be Accurate: Check that that the claim to eco care is relevant to the impact your product or service has on the environment.  It may not be wise to claim that your company is supporting local trade by sourcing locally if your organisation’s biggest environmental impact is on energy efficiency or carbon emissions.  Do not claim that your product does not have a harmful ingredient or feature which it never had to start with.  So for example, take the Lagan Water website.  Straight away you can see their claims in a concise and easy to read format that anyone can understand, whether or not they are even in the industry.

Be genuine: It is also important to make sure that the methods employed to reduce impact do not cause a more serious trade-off for the environment.  An example is when a company claims to have reduced carbon dioxide emissions but did not consider that this entailed an increase in methane emissions which is worse for the environment.

Life cycle impact: Promote awareness for environmental impact throughout the product’s life cycle.  Evaluate the impact of the whole process – from sourcing (the supply chain) to development and production to recycling / up-cycling upon disposal.  The availability of recycling facilities for recyclable packaging also needs to be clearly indicated on the product label.  Retailers like M&S now encourage trade-in’s to demonstrate accountability for the disposal of old clothes.

Be transparent: Show transparency by giving access to product details and corporate practices.  Enlist a third party organisation that certifies green practices following set criteria and verification rules.  With third party eco-labels, a certification may be withdrawn when a business fails inspections or fails to adhere to set conditions.  A prime example of this is Apple’s environmental report.

In closing, environmental laws and standards are updated frequently.  Check for the latest regulations periodically to ensure compliance and keep your business in the lead with green – best practice.

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