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Support environmental claims such as eco-friendly with evidence: Draft greenwashing guidelines


Companies making any environmental claims such as ‘green’, ‘eco-friendly’, ‘eco-consciousness’, ‘good for the planet’, ‘cruelty-free’, will have to back their assertion with verifiable evidence, according to Department of Consumer Affairs’ draft guidelines on greenwashing.

Greenwashing is a deceptive form of advertising or marketing used to make consumers believe that a product or process is environmentally friendly.

“All environmental claims shall be accurate and disclose all material information either in the relevant advertisement or communication or by inserting a QR Code, or any such technology including web link, which will be linked to relevant information,” the department said in a statement.

The guidelines will be applicable to all advertisements or service provider, product seller, advertiser, or an advertising agency or endorser whose service is availed for the advertisement of such goods or services, the department said in a statement.

While making disclosures in relation to environmental claims, the companies will also have to specify whether the claim refers to the product, manufacturing process, packaging, disposal process of the product or packaging or the process of rendering the service.

The guidelines also specify that the data from research shall not be cherry picked to highlight only favourable observations while obscuring others that are unfavourable.”Specific environmental claims must be supported by credible certification, reliable scientific evidence, and independent third-party verification to maintain their authenticity, “the draft said. “Consumer’s interest is of paramount importance,” said Rohit Kumar Singh, secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs and Chief Commissioner of Central Consumer Protection Authority adding that there was a need for clarity, specifically in addressing certain aspects related to advertisements of environmental claims.

In case of any misleading claims the companies will be penalized for misleading advertisement as per Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

The committee which prepared the guidelines compromised of various laws firms and law schools, consumer organizations, industry bodies such as Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).


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