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Abstract

The market for ‘green’ products has expanded drastically over recent years in response to increased consumer concerns about environmental issues. However, such expansion has been accompanied by unsavoury conduct by some producers and marketers of green products. A number of corporations, for example, have sought to exploit their environmental and corporate social responsibility credentials to confuse, mislead or even defraud customers or clients by marketing so-called ‘brown’ (or non-green) products as green products. This practice has been referred to as ‘greenwashing’. While Australia does not have specific legislation dealing with misleading environmental claims, it has developed a sophisticated approach to the regulation of misleading or deceptive conduct through the old s 52 of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth), now s 18 of the Australian Consumer Law, and its many derivatives in other statutes. This article analyses the extent to which s 18 of the Australian Consumer Law and its federal statutory equivalents apply to the regulation of greenwashing.

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