The Advertising Standards Council of India (“ASCI”) recently published draft guidelines for advertisers to consider while making green claims. The object of these guidelines is to curb the practice of greenwashing, i.e., making false or misleading claims to indicate that products/services/processes are less harmful to the environment.
Some important features of the guidelines are as follows:
■ A green claim must suggest that a product or service has a positive impact on the environment or is comparatively less damaging than its own previous versions, or from competing products.
■ If a claim refers to a product or service is absolutely ‘environment friendly’, ‘eco-friendly’ ‘sustainable’, and ‘planet friendly’, it must be supported by a “high level of substantiation”.
■ Claim should also be based on the full life circle of the advertised product or service, or else, should be restricted to only limited claims.
■ Claim should also clarify whether it refers to the whole product/process/packaging/service, or only a portion.
■ Advertisers must not mislead consumers by stating that their product or service “does not” cause environmental damage.
■ Claims related to carbon offset should disclose whether the reductions will occur for two years or longer.
■ Claims pertaining to products being biodegradable should have scientific data to show that the product is free of environmentally hazardous elements.