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  • Writer's pictureGill Kelley

What is greenwashing – from a positive perspective

Greenwashing is the process of communicating misleading information or an exaggerated or false impression of how environmentally friendly their products are.


In the UK, while there is no specific legislation to stop greenwashing, there is a Green Claims Code, administered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). It states the following –


· Claims must be truthful and accurate.

· Claims must be clear and unambiguous.

· Claims must not omit or hide important relevant information.

· Comparisons must be fair and meaningful.

· Claims must consider the full life cycle of the product or service.

· Claims must be substantiated.

At the moment, as it goes through the process of interpretation and testing it out, marketers remain quite fearful of getting things wrong, and so one of the impacts of this regulation has been a reduction in promotion of sustainability efforts. However, as time goes on, marketers will become more confident and it’s good to know that we can rely on what we’re being told.


In their ‘Six top tips to avoid misleading advertising’, CAP News. 27 January 2002, there are a few that can be applied to ‘green’ claims. They say –


  • Don’t omit key information.

For example, Alpro said “Good for the planet, good for you.” Although they argued that consumers would understand the claim meant its product had a lower environmental impact than dairy-based products, it was ruled to be too vague.

  • Don’t exaggerate.

For example, Don’t say that the bottles your drinks are in are 100% re-cyclable if this doesn’t apply to the cap.

  • Have evidence to back up your claims.

For example, ‘Environmentally friendly’ needs to be backed up with evidence through a product’s full life cycle, from manufacture to disposal.


Visit asa.org.uk for more information and to sign up for their Newsletter

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