Trust your bank to be green? ACCC goes after greenwashers

someone watering a piggy

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is set to crack down on businesses misleading consumers on environmental and sustainability claims. 

It will investigate and review at least 200 Australian businesses to identify if their green claims are true in the coming months. 

“As consumers become increasingly interested in purchasing sustainable products, there are growing concerns that some businesses are falsely promoting their environmental or green credentials,” says ACCC deputy chair, Delia Rickard.

“The ACCC won’t hesitate to take enforcement action where we see that consumers are being misled or deceived by green claims.”

What is greenwashing?

Greenwashing is basically a marketing spin. When corporations advertise or claim that their products/services are eco-friendly but they actually aren’t, that’s usually called greenwashing

“Misleading claims about products or services undermine consumer trust and confidence in the market,” says Rickard.

Greenwashing is technically not illegal, but Australian consumer law requires businesses to be truthful about their practices. Usually, it wouldn’t be in a corporation's best interest to lie to its customers because it can lead to distrust of the brand. 

That’s why you hardly see big institutions like banks making claims that they are 100% green even when they offer ‘green’ products.

Is my bank greenwashing?

If you’re worried that your bank might be greenwashing, below are some ways to check if it's actually sustainable:

  1. Check with green analysis tools Market Forces to see where the bank stands from a fossil fuel investment perspective.
  2. Pull up the bank's financial services guides (FSG) or sustainable or responsible banking policy documents to learn what they do with your money.
  3. Look for green stamps of approval that give the bank green legitimacy.

The most crucial point when picking a green bank is doing your research to double-check that it isn’t greenwashing.

What are some green banking options?

Australia has quite a few green and ethical bank options. Many of them are B-Corp certified which is always a good sign because it means that they have a positive impact on the environment. 

Some green Australian banks to keep on your radar are:

  • Bank Australia
  • Teachers Mutual Bank
  • Gateway Bank
  • Bendigo Bank

Check out Mozo’s banking guides to learn more about green banks. Alternatively, check out our family finance page to learn more about green finances.

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