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Thu October 21 2021

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Product marketing code launched: fees still unknown

21 Sep Manufacturers of construction products are being asked to promise not to lie, cheat, obfuscate or seek to confuse with their marketing literature in a new industry initiative.

You might be seeing a bit of this logo
You might be seeing a bit of this logo

The Code for Construction Product Information, first published in draft form in January 2021, has now been approved and ready for companies to sign up to.

Launch of the Code for Construction Product Information (CCPI) is coupled with publication of code guidance and a Preparing for the Code information pack.*

The aim is to improve standards – particularly with regard to clarity and honesty – in the presentation of construction product information in the manufacturing industry.

However, manufacturers still do not know how much they will have to pay to sign the code. That is still being worked out by a new organisation set up to run it.

However, we do know that there will be “be fees for registering an organisation, for the verification of leadership and culture and management systems, and for the verification of product sets”. Fees will be based on the size of the organisation and the type and quantity of products.

The code has been developed by the Construction Products Association’s marketing integrity group, set up after the Grenfell Tower fire revealed that integrity and marketing did not always go hand in hand when it comes to construction products.

Some say that the new code is a bit of a whitewash – that there are already laws to prevent misrepresentation and the code adds nothing new. It is unclear why manufacturers would be more likely to observe industry guidance than national law.

Most, however, support the intent and hope that it will bring about real change in behaviour and culture among manufacturers.

The code has been built on the principle that product information must be clear, accurate, up-to-date, accessible and unambiguous. It has 11 clauses covering aspects from responsibility for product information to transparency of information regarding performance, proof of stated claims and general information and competency.

Registration for verification will open towards the end of 2021, supported by guidance. Organisations can register their interest now to receive updates ahead of the launch of verification.

Management of the code has been formally handed over from the Construction Products Association to Construction Product Information Ltd (CPI Ltd) – a newly established not-for-profit organisation with independent governance and management being set-up to administer the CCPI.

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CPI Ltd is developing the possible fee model based on market intelligence of comparable schemes and benchmarking other related market costs.  It is managed by Amanda Long, who also runs the Considerate Constructors Scheme.

She said: “The code should be a priority for all involved with construction product manufacturing. By focusing on culture, leadership and ethics the Code for Construction Product Information will build trust and is a progressive step towards ensuring that building safety is a priority for those responsible for the provision of construction product information. Enabling responsible manufacturers to assure their product information and be recognised for their efforts, the code will support urgent and positive culture and behaviour change in the industry ahead of regulation.”

Adam Turk, chairman of the Construction Products Association’s (CPA) marketing integrity group that wrote the code, said: “The entirety of the construction industry has contributed to this work over the last three years, through numerous engagements, a call For evidence and an industry consultation.”

He said: “There has been overwhelming support for the principle of the code itself as we endeavour to re-instil confidence in construction products generally. It is now time for our Industry to demonstrate its integrity by getting behind the code, and putting building safety first. The faster that all manufacturers register their interest and begin the journey, the sooner that users of our information will be able to rely on it to be clear, accurate, up-to-date, accessible and unambiguous.”

Dame Judith Hackitt, who was commissioned by government to review fire safety and building regulations in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, gave her blessing to the new code. “Clear and unambiguous product information is an essential element in rebuilding confidence and trust which was lost after the tragedy of Grenfell Tower,” she said. “I am pleased to see industry taking action and publishing the Code for Construction Product Information. Responsible manufacturers can and should now lead the way in doing the right thing and be recognised for doing so.”

Despite the fine intentions, not everyone believes that the code will change much. Darren Lester founder and chief executive of SpecifiedBy, an online products database, fears that bigger problems are being brushed under the carpet. He said in April on the close of industry consultation: “As an industry, we have big challenges around how we manage product data, from the terminology and units we use, to how we digitally manage it and share it and how we validate it. The code addresses none of these issues. The code will not prevent inaccurate product data. Today, whether intentional or through human error and mistakes, inaccurate or misleading product data can be passed from one company to another or one individual to another, with no way to easily check and validate this data. This will still be true even with this code in place.”

As well as signing the Code for Construction Product Information, construction product manufacturers are also being encouraged to sign the Green Claims Code, published today by the Competition & Markets Authority to clampdown on 'greenwashing'. The Green Claims Code focuses on principles based on existing consumer law. Firms making green claims “must not omit or hide important information” and “must consider the full life cycle of the product”.

CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said: "We’re concerned that too many businesses are falsely taking credit for being green, while genuinely eco-friendly firms don’t get the recognition they deserve."

For more information see:

* Code for Construction Product Information

* Code for Construction Product Information: Code Guidance

* Preparing for the Code

* Green Claims Code

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