Published 2 years ago.
About a 4 minute read.
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The Provenance Framework debuts as the UK government cracks down on greenwashing, and competition regulators find that up to 40% of firms’ environmental claims could be misleading.
Earlier this month, as the UK Government unleashed a watchdog
tasked with stamping out greenwashing by brands,
Provenance — a software company and social
enterprise that enables businesses to make substantiated sustainability claims,
and shoppers to fact-check them — launched a free, digital rulebook called the
Provenance Framework. The online tool is
version 2.0 of its original Proof Point framework, for which the European
Commission awarded Provenance a €1M
The open-source rulebook helps businesses make credible, consumer-facing claims
about their social and environmental impacts.
The Provenance Framework launched just prior to updated guidance on consumer
protection law from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) — the
UK’s competition regulator. The CMA and its international partners most recently
found that as much as 40 percent of
corporations' sustainability claims could be misleading — for example, labeling products as
‘organic’ or ‘recycled’ when the majority of ingredients are neither, claims
that may also break consumer law.
Co-developed by leading sustainability experts, and continually updated in line
with the latest ESG standards, Provenance’s rulebook allows brands to convert
supply chain data into claims that shoppers can easily understand and trust.
Brands visiting the free site can now quickly undertake the following actions:
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Examine 50+ impact claims they might want to make across five focus
areas (Climate, Communities, Nature, Waste and
Understand the specific criteria that need to be met to make that claim
Review guidance on the relevant verifiers (such as CarbonNeutral®,
1% for the Planet and the Ethical Trading Initiative) and the
evidence those bodies require to substantiate a claim
View expert advice on how a claim should be publicly communicated.
With today’s consumers savvier and more discerning than ever, and being vocal in
their expectations of brands to operate in accordance with their
industry analysts believe increasing numbers of businesses may feel incentivised
to make misleading, vague, or false claims about their products.
Provenance founder and CEO Jessi Baker says brands genuinely committed to
sustainability issues need to double down on transparency and
“Opaque sourcing practices and supply chains — and sometimes active greenwashing
— mean that many of today’s shoppers are confused about which purchases could be
better for the planet. At the same time, with no universal standard for making
and proving ‘green’ claims, genuinely committed businesses can feel paralysed —
and frustrated with competitors that mislead shoppers. They worry about
accusations of greenwashing; when in reality, they deserve to be able to openly
share the facts behind their positive social and environmental impact,
converting it into real brand value.
“The urgent need for credible, verifiable messaging is clear; so we
wholeheartedly embrace the CMA’s guidance — and hope that The Provenance
Framework can support businesses in implementing that guidance," Baker added.
“As sustainability becomes a ‘marketing must’, greenwashing will never be far
behind; and the last thing the world needs is deflated apathy from confused
consumers,” says Alexia Inge, co-founder and co-CEO of online beauty
marketplace Cult Beauty — an early
user of the Provenance Framework. “At
Cult Beauty, we’re always looking for ways to empower our customers to do easy
but trustworthy diligence around brand claims; and that is why we partnered with
Provenance to power our Cult Conscious initiative. Provenance helps us provide
our customers the verified facts they need to make confident consumption
decisions that will make a difference, in a way that was previously unheard of
in the beauty industry.”
The launch of The Provenance Framework comes at a time when the role of
competition authorities in achieving sustainability and environmental goals is
in the European spotlight. The UK’s CMA has already published initial guidelines
in advance of its final report later this summer; last fall, The
Netherlands’ Authority for Consumers and Markets released five “rules of
for environmental claims and last month began its investigation into the 170
largest local businesses; while the European Commission is also currently
considering amendments to the EU consumer law framework to regulate
environmental claims. Meanwhile, in the US, denim label Amendi and policy
collective Politically in Fashion are leading an effort calling on the
Federal Trade Commission to review its Green
which outline rules against greenwashing but haven’t been updated since 2012.
Published Jul 22, 2021 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST