ASIC alleged that Mercer Superannuation (Australia) Limited stated on its website that its 7 Sustainable Plus investment options excluded investments in companies involved in carbon intensive fossil fuels, alcohol production and gambling. However, ASIC alleged that members who took up the Sustainable Plus options had investments in companies involved in these “excluded” industries, e.g.,
- 15 companies involved in extracting or selling carbon intensive fossil fuels, e.g., AGL, BHP, Glencore and Whitehaven Coal
- 15 companies involved in producing alcohol, e.g., Budweiser, Carlsberg, Heineken and Treasury Wine Estates
- 19 companies involved in gambling, e.g., Aristocrat, Caesar’s, Crown Resorts and Tabcorp
ASIC is seeking pecuniary penalties, injunctions to stop the misrepresentations, publication orders and declarations from the Federal Court. ASIC alleges that Mercer made false and misleading statements and its conduct could mislead the public.
Wider powers against superannuation trustees
This is also the first court case ASIC has brought after legislative changes enhancing its powers to pursue a wider range of superannuation trustee conduct.
What is “Greenwashing”?
Greenwashing is the practice of misrepresenting the extent to which a company, product, service or investment strategy is environmentally friendly, sustainable or ethical. It may involve exaggerated claims.
Tips to avoid greenwashing
Be specific. Give a realistic impression of environmental impact or sustainability. Make your advertisements (especially the headline) consistent with any disclaimers. Use clear, plain language. Only make claims you can prove. Only make claims in an appropriate context. Use current, complete information. Use our Advertising checklist and practical guide to check whether your marketing material is misleading due to greenwashing or other issues, e.g., price, comparisons, reviews.
More greenwashing cases
Check out our greenwashing case table. Here’s a partial sneak peek: