In a couple of weeks we will release the Organic Content Standard, which has been designed to support organic content claims in final products.
A claim is anything a brand or retailer markets as a unique or desired quality of a product. Most countries have laws that ensure that claims are truthful. Content claims and product claims can refer to a sustainability aspect of a product, but not necessarily. Companies make all sorts of claims about their products: the quality, how it feels, the durability, and how fashionable it is. As the notion of sustainability has grown in popularity, claims around the environmental impacts of products have started to rise. Phrases like “eco-friendly” and “safe for the environment” are easy to throw around and much more difficult to prove. Often times these phrases are used when the actual difference in impact on the environment is very small.
There is a new kind of consumer buying these products. Consumers who read labels, look up the environmental impact of the ingredients, and read articles about where products come from and the standard of living for the people that made their clothing, gadgets, food, and cars. It is increasingly important to communicate honestly and clearly with these consumers. They will find out even if you don’t.
There are two types of claims that can become easily confused, but understanding the difference can make a big difference. A content claim on a product only refers to the ingredients or contents of a given product; while a product claim is meant to say something about the product as a whole. Just looking at organic: a content claim establishes that a given product contains organic material and a product claim establishes a final product as organic, usually implying a higher percentage of organic content AND “organic processing.”
They are referred to as “organic cotton sheets.” This is an example of a product claim. They are not merely claiming the bedding was made with organic materials, they are implying something more. If you scroll down to the bottom and look at the details, you’ll find that 100% organic cotton was used to make the sheets and the product was certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), which includes requirements on how the product was processed.
For any kind of claim, it’s important to communicate honestly and clearly, and it’s crucial to have a system of verification in place.