Consumer NZ warns number of products claiming to be sustainable is 'concerning'

Consumer NZ warns the number of products claiming to be sustainable through greenwashing is concerning. 

It comes as their latest research shows several companies struggled to back claims that their products are environmentally friendly. 

The fake eco-marketing scheme, otherwise known as greenwashing, makes products seem 'greener' than they actually are. 

Consumer NZ found half of New Zealanders admit they struggle to identify the accuracy of green claims when shopping for eco-friendly products, and head of research and advocacy Gemma Rasmussen stresses Kiwis must understand how common the problem is. 

Speaking with AM on Thursday, she described the scheme as "concerning". 

Rasmussen said consumers are often unaware of the false claims as packaging on products can be "sneaky" and come off as being eco-friendly through "earthy-toned packaging or a green tick". 

"I would be completely one of those people, when I am at the supermarket or wherever I may be, when you try and make these decisions it is really hard to know what is genuine and what is not." 

"From the investigations that Consumer NZ has done we have just had to walk into a supermarket, cosmetic stores and so on - and it hasn't been too hard to find products that are heavily green-washed," she explained. 

She said examples are often seen in laundry products sold in supermarkets, such as the EcoLiving Laundry Detergent Sheets. 

"Some of the things that this laundry detergent was saying was that it was eco-friendly, naturally derived, plastic free and that it had active ingredients," she explained. 

"And obviously the name, [which is] eco-friendly, suggests that it's pretty good for the planet." 

She said Consumer NZ reached out directly to the company after they "couldn't find anything on their website or packaging to substantiate these claims". 

"They weren't able to back them up." 

"This is happening in marketing departments, it's happening in packaging, and they really aren't able to verify it," Rasmussen warned. 

"Another laundry detergent we looked at recently was Re-Stor Pre Measured Laundry Detergent Sheets. Again - they said they were naturally derived and eco-friendly and they just weren't able to back up these claims." 

"It really is quite concerning," she admitted. "Are the claims a company is making really genuine or not?"