Bill seeks to ban 'green' claims

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Indy Politics
A PRIVATE Member's Bill which seeks to outlaw 'meaningless' green claims made by manufacturers or retailers will be introduced in the Commons today.

The Environmental Claims Bill, part of a campaign by environmentalists against the new European eco-label, is backed by three leading retailers and has cross-party support from MPs. It will be presented by Alan Keen, the Labour MP for Feltham and Heston.

It follows a poll last month which showed that most people were likely to be be misled by the European eco-label. More than three-quarters said they would expect products granted the eco- label not to have been tested on animals: in fact, they may have involved animal testing.

The Bill would shift the burden of proof on to those making a claim. False claims would be punishable by a fine or up to two years in prison.

It is aimed at terms such as 'environmentally friendly', 'ozone friendly', 'sustainable', 'recyclable' or 'without cruelty'. There is little agreement on the meaning of such phrases and the Trade Descriptions Act has proved ineffective against them.

The Bill is backed by the cosmetics group Body Shop and two of Britain's largest retail chains, the Co-op and Kingfisher (which includes Woolworth's), and is supported by the British Retail Consortium and the Institute of Trading Standards Administration. Its backers hope that it will be adopted by one of the MPs who wins the ballot for Private Members' Bills this autumn.

Mr Keen, Commons environment spokesman for the Co-operative Party, said the the Bill aimed to stop consumers being misled by unscrupulous traders.