The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has released a report on environmental claims in advertising, which warns advertisers of a dramatic rise in the number of complaints brought concerning such claims.
In 2006, the ASA received 117 complaints regarding green claims in 83 advertisements. In 2007, the agency received 561 complaints concerning 410 ads.
“Independent research commissioned by the ASA in November 2007 indicated a high awareness of green issues and environmental claims in ads. However, it also revealed a high degree of confusion and a lack of basic understanding about claims and what they mean,” stated the report, which was released following a public meeting in June on environmental claims and greenwashing.
“The research also found that those who were the most concerned about the environment tended to be the most knowledgeable and most cynical about what they see as ‘greenwash,’” the ASA said. Claims most commonly challenged were those involving CO2 emissions, such as carbon “neutral,” “zero” and “negative,” as well as absolute claims, such as “100% recycled” and “wholly sustainable.”