Greenwashing: CCPA Unveils Draft Guidelines, Seeks Comments

The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has released draft guidelines for the prevention and regulation of greenwashing. Public comments on the draft guidelines have been sought by March 21, 2024.

These were finalised after discussions were held by a committee set up in November 2023.

Under the draft guidelines, greenwashing has been defined as “(i) any deceptive or misleading practice, which includes concealing, omitting, or hiding relevant information, by exaggerating, making vague, false, or unsubstantiated environmental claims (ii) use of misleading words, symbols, or imagery, placing emphasis on positive environmental aspects while downplaying or concealing harmful attributes but shall not include (i) use of obvious hyperboles, puffery, or (ii) the use of generic colour schemes or pictures; either not amounting to any deceptive or misleading practice.

Clause 6 of the draft guidelines requires all environmental claims to be backed by evidence. If generic terms like “eco-friendly”, “minimum impact”, etc. are used, the same has to be accompanied by adequate substantiation and disclosures. Technical terms such as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) need to be elaborated upon. The adequate disclosures that have to be made are prescribed under Clause 7.

However, if the advertisement or communication is not specific to any product or service, the guidelines would not apply.  

It is clearly stated that the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, would apply in case of any contravention of the guidelines.

Further, a guidance note has been attached to the draft guidelines, with additional pointers to be taken into consideration while making environmental claims. For instance, claims referring to certifications or endorsements would be prohibited if they’re not backed by the concerned authorities.

Only last week, the guidelines released by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) for advertisements making environmental claims, came into effect.