ENVIRONMENTAL CLAIMS

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Notes of Guidance

9. Environmental Claims

Background
Advertisements should take account of Government guidance including the Green Claims Code published by DEFRA and BIS.

CLEARCAST GUIDANCE
The Green Claims Code is available here.

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental implications of the products they buy. It is therefore essential that claims are accurate, clearly explained and not likely to mislead the lay person, particularly where the claim concerns issues of a highly technical nature. Best practice on environmental impact claims is contained in DEFRA’s Green Claims Code. Any decision not to follow this best practice should be justified.

9.1 Radio Central Copy Clearance – Radio broadcasters must ensure advertisements subject to this section are centrally cleared.

9.2 The basis of environmental claims must be clear. Unqualified claims could mislead if they omit significant information.

CLEARCAST GUIDANCE
Examples include claims to save money by installing solar panels, more efficient boilers, or other household devices. Clearcast expects to see clear data to support such claims and it is likely we would seek an expert view. Claims that products are organic or sustainable will require certification from relevant bodies such as the Soil Association or the Marine Stewardship Council.

9.3 The meaning of all terms used in advertisements must be clear to consumers.

CLEARCAST GUIDANCE
To help ensure that claims are understood by viewers with little or no scientific knowledge, the general nature of any claimed benefit should be clear by stating in what respect advertised products are environmentally preferable.

9.4 Absolute claims must be supported by a high level of substantiation. Comparative claims such as “greener” or “friendlier” can be justified, for example, if the advertised product or service provides a total environmental benefit over that of the advertiser’s previous product or service or competitor products or services and the basis of the comparison is clear.

9.5 Environmental claims must be based on the full life cycle of the advertised product or service, unless the ad states otherwise, and must make clear the limits of the life cycle. If a general claim cannot be justified, a more limited claim about specific aspects of a product or service might be justifiable. Claims that are based on only part of an advertised product or service’s life cycle must not mislead consumers about the product or service’s total environmental impact.

CLEARCAST GUIDANCE
Any generalised claim about environmental benefit will require substantiation on a cradle to grave basis, i.e. the complete life-cycle of products and their packaging, taking into account the effects on the environment of raw materials, manufacture, use, disposal and any other relevant aspects. Because on this basis practically all products are likely to have some impact on the environment, categorical statements such as 'environmentally friendly', 'safe', or 'green' are unlikely to be acceptable.

9.6 Advertisements must not suggest that their claims are universally accepted if a significant division of informed or scientific opinion exists.

CLEARCAST GUIDANCE
Current scientific opinion is that man-made climate change has been observed and that the balance of scientific opinion is that man’s behaviour has had an effect. There is however a counter view within the scientific community that questions this. The current most authoritative study is by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007.

9.7 If a product or service has never had a demonstrably adverse effect on the environment, advertisements must not imply that the formulation has changed to improve the product or service in the way claimed. Advertisements may, however, claim that a product or service has always been designed in a way that omits an ingredient or process known to harm the environment.

CLEARCAST GUIDANCE
Claims based on the absence of a harmful constituent or damaging effect are not acceptable when products in the category concerned do not generally contain the constituent or cause the effect. Claims about the absence of harmful constituents, even if they are factual, may be rejected if advertised products contain other, equally harmful elements.

Advertisements should not falsely claim or imply approval for a product by, for example, an official body or environmental group.

9.8 Advertisements must not mislead consumers about the environmental benefit that a product or service offers; for example, by highlighting the absence of an environmentally damaging ingredient if that ingredient is not usually found in competing products or services by highlighting an environmental benefit that results from a legal obligation if competing products are subject to the same requirements.

9.9 This rule must be read in conjunction with Directive (EC) No 2010/30/EU and the Energy Information Regulations 2011 on labelling and standard product information of the consumption of energy and other resources by energy-related products and its subsequent delegated regulations. The Directive introduces an information and labelling framework whereby delegated regulations will detail which products need to contain an energy efficient rating or fiche. The rule only applies to products which are subject to a delegated regulation.

For more information on delegated regulations, go to ec.europa.eu/energy

Advertisements for specific energy-related products, subject to a delegated regulation, that include energy-related information or disclose price information, must include an indication of the product’s energy efficiency class i.e. in the range A+++ to G.

CLEARCAST GUIDANCE
The product types affected can be found here, along with further energy labelling information.

9.10 This rule must be read in conjunction with Directive (EC) No 2010/30/EU and the Energy Information Regulations 2011 on labelling and standard product information on the consumption of energy and other resources by energy related products and its subsequent delegated regulations. The Directive introduces an information and labelling framework whereby delegated regulations will detail which products need to contain an energy efficiency rating or fiche. The rule only applies to products which are subject to a delegated regulation.

For more information on delegated regulations, go to ec.europa.eu/energy

Advertisers must make product fiche information available about products that fall under delegated regulations to consumers before commitment

CLEARCAST GUIDANCE
BCAP and CAP have produced a help note on this issue. The help note can be found here.