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Our work on Climate Change and Environmental Claims

Who we are, and what we do

The ASA has a long track record in tackling problematic environmental claims, including issues like greenwashing and other forms of misleading and socially irresponsible green claims. 

We’ve had dedicated environmental rules for around forty years, and we believe we can credibly claim to have done as much as any UK regulator in dealing with misleading green claims.

This resource hub gives you an overview of the work we've already done, as well as our approach for the work we still have left to do.

You can help us to achieve our aim of reducing misleading green claims and putting a stop to environmentally irresponsible advertising by reporting your concerns about an ad you’ve seen. Help us to keep our environment safe, and make sure all UK ads are legal, decent, honest and truthful.

Our environmental rules

The ASA applies the Advertising Codes, which are written by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP and BCAP), to advertising across all different types of media.

There are different sections that apply to environmental claims and social responsibility.

There is a section in each Code which deals with environmental claims. As well as the section dedicated to environmental rules, both Codes also have a section that has rules to ensure ads are not misleading. These rules will apply to ads that feature environmental claims along with other rules that ensure ads are socially responsible.

Read more about our environmental rules.

Advice and resources on the environment

In addition to the rules, we also have an extensive amount of guidance and advice on numerous topics on our website. We have many articles covering environmental issues.

Some of the articles that deal with environmental issues are –

Read more about our advice and resources on environmental issues.

Environmental rulings

The ASA may carry out a formal investigation, for complex issues, or a potential serious breach of the Advertising Codes. The ASA Council decides whether or not there has been a breach of the Codes and will issue the final ruling.

For example in a ruling in October 2021, the ASA considered the basis of the claim “GOOD FOR THE PLANET” was not made clear. Unqualified claims could mislead if they omit significant information. (Alpro (UK) Ltd, 20 October 2021).

The ASA considered the claims “plastic free” and “Zero plastic” to be misleading when unsubstantiated. The ASA received no information about the make-up of the product packaging and so the adverts were considered to be problematic. (Class Delta Ltd t/a abnormal, 24 November 2021)

The ASA investigated an ad that made various claims such as "Reduce. Re-use. Recycle. Because there is no planet B. If we’re looking after nature she’ll be looking after me”. The ASA considered that the ad implied  purchasing theproducts was a choice which would have a positive environmental impact when that was not the case, and so the ad was considered misleading. (Innocent Ltd t/a Innocent, 23 February 2022)

An ad for an e-scooter hire scheme said “Be environmentally … friendly. Take a TIER” was investigated for being an abolsute claim that implied electric scooters caused no environmental damage. The ASA did not see evidence based on the lifecycle of the product to support the absolute claim and so it was concluded the ad was misleading and breached the Code.  (TIER Operations Ltd, 06 April 2022)

Find out more about our environmental rulings.

Climate change and the Environment project

The Earth’s climate emergency is a global issue that impacts all areas of society, and therefore every organisation has a role to play in shaping the future of our planet.

This is why we’ve launched our own Climate Change and the Environment project. We intend in the coming months and years to shine a brighter regulatory spotlight on ads that touch on the environment and are signalling our intention to take a tough line on ads that mislead or which are socially irresponsible where we identify issues with them.

As part of the project CAP and BCAP have published guidance to assist with interpreting CAP and BCAP’s rules that concern environment-related advertising issues. 

Read more about our project work.

External links

As well as our own work, other organisations are working on similar projects at this time. The CMA and Advertising Association are just two of those that are looking at environmental issues at this time.

Ad Green unites the advertising industry to eliminate the negative environmental impacts of production.

The Advertising Association have announced their Ad Net Zero plan. The plan commits the ad industry to influence the creative content of ads to promote more sustainable messages. The ASA have contributed training material about our rules to their online training module, which will be made widely available to advertising industry professionals

The ASA has also worked closely with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) who have recently announced their own enquiry into this subject. The CMA have produced some new guidance, which they consulted with the ASA on.

Find out more about other organisations and their work.

Further advice

As mentioned above, we have lots of advice in this area for advertisers, and we have been ruling on environmental claims in advertising for decades. But we appreciate that this area is constantly changing. So if the information below doesn’t cover the specific environmental claim that you wish to make and you want to check if it is within the rules, do get in touch with the Copy Advice team who can provide free, swift advice. These claims matter.

Don't just be seen to be green, mean to be green.
 

 

 

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