UK Advertising Regulator Clamps Down on ‘Greenwashing’ Ads

The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has published three further rulings on ads that include...

The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has published three further rulings on ads that include sustainability claims. 

As part of its efforts to address greenwashing, the ASA upheld complaints on Shell, Petronas and Repsol, arguing that they exaggerated or excluded important information about the extent of their business activities that were comprised of lower carbon.  

Legal experts said they expect that the ASA will continue to scrutinise green claims closely, as part of its ongoing climate change and environmental programme of works. 

The ASA said that it acknowledged steps that the businesses were taking to invest in lower carbon, however, it could not look away at their continuing significant contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.  

“The ASA expects any ad making claims which could be interpreted as claims about the overall environmental impact of a business to carry clear and explicit qualifications to contextualise the significance of the specific claims made,” legal experts said.  

The ASA also criticised the companies for imagery used during ads. “Leafy imagery in an ad for biofuel, in conjunction with the wording of the claims made, would lead consumers to interpret the claim as meaning that these offerings formed a “significant” element of the advertiser’s current activities, rather than a “fraction” of its current and near future planned business activities,” they added. 

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