New Framework Seeks to Tackle Greenwashing Practices

To tackle greenwashing practices, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has released guidelines for advertisements making green claims. The guidelines will be operative w.e.f. February 15, 2024.

These have been finalised after considering the public feedback received on the draft guidelines unveiled two months back. The press release dated January 18, 2024, states that the guidelines were approved in the Board of Governors meeting held recently.

Chapter I of ASCI’s Code lays stress on truthful and honest representation and seeks to prevent misleading advertisements.[1] Any non-compliance with the guidelines is said to constitute a breach of said Chapter.

As per the guidelines, absolute environmental claims have to be “substantiated by robust data and/ or well-recognised and credible accreditations”. The dilution of such claims through disclaimers, etc. is disallowed. Comparative environmental claims also need to be backed by evidence. If a product or service is bound to adhere to environmental standards as per the law, and such standards apply to competing products or services in the market as well, advertisements should not make any claims pertaining to environmental benefits that stem from compliance with the law. However, if it is necessary to bring it to the knowledge of the consumer, a disclaimer has to be in place. For instance, the disclaimer could state, “XX-Free: (Names of regulation) prohibit the use of (name of prohibited substance/ingredient) in (category of products)”.

When it comes to certifications or seals of approval, the advertisers have to make sure that the certifying agency is nationally or internationally accredited by a certifying authority such as the UN Council, Bureau of Indian Standards, etc.