ASCI Releases Guidelines to Combat Greenwashing in Advertisements

Newly approved guidelines by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) set to ensure transparency and reliability in environmental claims made by advertisers.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has unveiled comprehensive guidelines aimed at curbing false pro-environment claims, commonly known as greenwashing. These guidelines, titled “Guidelines for Advertisements Making Environmental/Green Claims,” were recently approved in the Board of Governors meeting after being in the public domain for consultation since November 16, 2023.

Effective from February 15, 2024, these guidelines seek to ensure that environmental claims made by advertisers are not only reliable but also verifiable and transparent. With consumer demand rising for products and services that minimize environmental impact, the ASCI guidelines address the issue of greenwashing, where claims often exaggerate or misrepresent a product’s eco-friendliness.

Greenwashing, characterized by deceptive environmental claims, prompted the ASCI to specify that advertisements must limit specific claims to the part of the product or service that genuinely provides an environmental benefit. The guidelines prohibit broad claims without substantiation and require advertisers to base claims on the full life cycle of the product or service.

Moreover, the guidelines emphasize the need for transparency in certifications and seals, urging advertisers to clarify which attributes were evaluated by certifying agencies. Visual elements conveying a false impression of a product’s environmental impact are also discouraged, and aspirational claims about future environmental objectives must be accompanied by clear and actionable plans.

Manisha Kapoor, CEO and Secretary-General of ASCI, stressed the importance of consumers having accurate information to make informed choices, especially as the demand for green products grows. These guidelines, Kapoor believes, mark a significant step towards promoting transparency and accountability in environmental claims made in advertising, aligning with the government’s concerns about greenwashing.