ASA puts “greenwash” claims under scrutiny

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Advertising claims about CO2 emissions as being “zero” or “negative” can be contentious as consumers become increasingly aware of environmental issues, says a report by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The ASA has published a report on “greenwash” in marketing following a prolific rise in green initiatives that pose a tough challenge for advertisers in ensuring their claims comply with the self-regulatory rules and regulations. It follows the findings of a stakeholder consultation seminar entitled “Environmental claims in advertising: Is green a grey area?” The ASA said it used the seminar to engage with industry, environmental and consumer groups on establishing where problems arise.

The document aims to guide advertisers and set parameters for environmental and ethical claims.

The seminar was held in June in response to rising consumer concern over what is seen as “greenwash”.

The ASA says a key objective of the consultation was to give advertisers clarity about the current rules on environmental claims to prevent consumers from being misled or confused. For instance, claims about carbon emissions, such as “carbon neutral” are particularly open to scrutiny, as are absolute claims, like “100% recycled”.

In a separate initiative, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) is holding a seminar on July 30 to ensure those involved with new advertising opportunities in the NHS understand and comply with the advertising codes. The rules, which are administered by the ASA, are set out in the NHS Code of Practice for the Promotion of NHS Services.

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