Green claims – why the nursery industry can make them

With growing consumer concern about the environment many businesses now promote their ‘green’ credentials to differentiate themselves and their product from the competition.

The Trade Practices Act 1974 states that businesses must not mislead or deceive customers in any way. With the rise in green marketing, companies as big as De Longhi and SAAB/General Motors have been found in breach of the act by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

However, NGIA National Marketing & Communications Manager Jacqui Gibbs says the nursery industry should be marketing their green credentials. “We should be picking up on the green marketing trend. We are the real green industry and we have a wealth of research to back this up.” Jacqui says.

Why we are the real green industry:

• Plants can save energy - Dr. Stephen Livesley from the Department of Forest and Ecosystem Science at the University of Melbourne, stated in his presentation at the 2009 Urban GreenScapes Symposium that green infrastructure can provide direct indirect energy saving benefits.

• Plants reduce stormwater run-off - according to Dr Greg McPherson project leader for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Centre for Urban Forest Research, who also presented at the Urban GreenScapes Symposium.

• Plants reduce pollutants in the air - According to the study by J Field ‘The Effect of Plants and Artificial Daylight on the well-being and Health of Office Workers, School Children and Health Care Personnel’, Plants improve air quality by taking toxins from the air and contributing oxygen back.

• Further environmental benefits of plants – according to a Literature Review of Documented Health and Environmental Benefits Derived from Ornamental Horticulture Products undertaken by the Australian Ornamental Horticultural Industry, plants:

- Moderate urban climate extremes

- Mitigate urban heat islands

- Remove contaminants from soil (phytoremediation)

- Improve water quality

- Reduce impacts of weather through windbreaks and shelterbelts

- Reduce noise pollution

- Control urban glare and reflection

- Attract birds and other wildlife

Jacqui says part of the industry’s peak industry body’s marketing campaign will focus on the environmental benefits of plants. “NGIA will be developing a vibrant, strategic consumer PR and marketing campaign for 2010 – 11 and some of the focus of this will be on marketing the environmental benefits of plants and green-life to the Australian public. I encourage the whole of the industry to get on board to really make this campaign a success,” Jacqui says.

 

The ACCC has producted a guide to help businesses understand their obligations under the Trade Practices Act when making green claims, it is available from www.accc.gov.au