ASA ‘shines regulatory spotlight’ on the environment

The Advertising Standards Authority’s remit seems to be growing by the day, and now it is tackling the issue of greenwashing, with new guidance to “shine a greater regulatory spotlight” on ads that mislead consumers about companies’ environmental credentials.

It’s a complex field where, the ASA says, there is “significant scope” for mistakes. Some advertisers have already seen their ads banned by the ASA for this, including Ryanair claim that it had the lowest CO2 emissions of any airline, and recipe box delivery company Gousto falsely advertising that its packaging was 100% plastic free and recyclable.

The ASA wants to take this to the next level and as well as issuing guidelines, has commissioned ongoing research. Its plan is to look closely at different areas, starting with ad claims around energy, heating and transport, in partnership with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

It won’t affect the subtle greenwashing line fed to consumers by car and energy companies, all eager to prove (or at least imply) that the environment is a huge priority for their businesses, but it’s a start.

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About Emma Hall

Emma Hall is a journalist and editorial consultant and is the former Europe Editor of Ad Age, where she covered European marketing advertising, digital and media stories. She has written for newspapers including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph, and was previously a section editor at Campaign. Emma started her career in New York as a researcher for a biography of Keith Richards.