December 19, 2023
The Advertising Standards
Council of India (“ASCI”) recently issued comprehensive draft guidelines (“draft
Guidelines”) in respect of advertisements which incorporate environmental
claims. The draft Guidelines prescribe that environmental claims are required
to be presented in a transparent, accurate and evidence-based manner in order
to curb greenwashing. The Guidelines aim to offer the advertisers a framework
to substantiate their environmental claims which will enable consumers to make
informed decisions while purchasing their services, products, brands, etc.
For the ease of understanding, greenwashing refers to a deceptive practice wherein the advertisers make false environmental claims about their services, products, processes, etc. in order to deceive the consumers to mislead them into thinking that they are harmless or even beneficial to the environment. Further, it is to be noted that greenwashing is violative of Chapter 1 of the ASCI Code which provides for truthful and honest representation. It states that, “… Advertisements must be truthful. All descriptions, claims and comparisons, which relate to matters of objectively ascertainable fact, should be capable of substantiation…..Advertisements shall neither distort facts nor mislead the consumer by means of implications or omissions. Advertisements shall not contain statements or visual presentation, which directly, or by implication or by omission or by ambiguity or by exaggeration, are likely to mislead the consumer about the product advertised or the advertiser, or about any other product or advertiser.
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