Consolidated ICC code : Environmental Claims


“Trace contaminant” and “background level” are not precise terms.
«Trace contaminant» implies primarily manufacturing impurity, whereas «background level» is typically used in the context of naturally occurring substances.

Claims often need to be based on specific substance-bysubstance assessment to demonstrate that the level is below that causing harm. Also, the exact definition of trace contaminants may depend on the product area concerned. If the substance is not added intentionally during processing, and manufacturing operations limit the potential for cross-contamination, a claim such as “no intentionally added xx” may be appropriate.

However, if achieving the claimed reduction results in an increase in other harmful materials,the claim may be misleading.

Terms specific to Environmental Claims in Marketing Communications

The following definitions relate specifically to this chapter and should be read in conjunction with the general definitions contained in the General Provisions:

  • the term “environmental aspect” means an element of an organisation’s activities or products that can interact with the environment;
  • the term “environmental claim” means any statement, symbol or graphic that indicates an environmental aspect of a product, a component or packaging;
  • the term “environmental impact” means any change to the environment, whether adverse or beneficial, wholly or partially resulting from an organisation’s activities or products;
  • the term “life cycle” means consecutive and interlinked stages of a product system, from raw material acquisition or generation of natural resources to final disposal;
  • the term “product” refers to any goods or services. “Product” normally includes the wrapping, container etc. in which the goods are delivered; however, in the environmental context it is often appropriate to refer separately to the packaging, which then means any material that is used to protect or contain a product during transportation, storage, marketing or use;
  • the term “qualification” means an explanatory statement that accurately and truthfully describes the limits of the claim;
  • the term “waste” refers to anything for which the generator or holder has no further use and which is discarded or released into the environment.  

There are many different specific environmental claims, and use and importance may vary.  These general principles, however, apply to all environmental claims. Guidance on the use of selected environmental claims often appearing in marketing communication, is provided in the ICC Framework for Responsible Environmental Marketing Communications.

Chapter Scope :Environmental Claims in Marketing Communications

This chapter applies to all marketing communications containing environmental claims, i.e. any claim in which explicit or implicit reference is made to environmental or ecological aspects relating to the production, packaging, distribution, use/consumption or disposal of products. Environmental claims can be made in any medium, including labelling, package inserts, promotional and point-of-sales materials, product literature as well as via telephone or digital or electronic media such as e-mail and the internet. All are covered by this chapter.  
The chapter draws from national and international guidance, including, but not limited to, certain provisions of the International Standard ISO 14021 on ‘Self-declared environmental claims,’ relevant to the marketing communication context, rather than technical prescriptions.

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