The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) is looking at ways to curb misleading sustainability claims made by brands amidst growing concerns about brands attempts at greenwashing. The self-regulatory industry body is exploring options to bring out guidelines for green and sustainability claims.

This comes at a time when Generation Z (Gen Z) and millennial consumers increasingly want to buy brands rooted in sustainability. Brands are often seen making claims such as biodegradable packaging, use of recycled packaging, or measures taken for a reduction in carbon footprint. Terms such as “organic” are also often used on labels of products when only one ingredient of organic nature may have been used for production.

ASCI’s guidelines

Speaking at the sidelines of the Goafest 2023, Manisha Kapoor, CEO and Secretary General, ASCI told businessline, “ASCI is working on a number of new guidelines which will be released in the next few weeks and months. One area we are looking at is the green and sustainability claims in advertising. This is becoming an important criteria for consumers and we want to make sure that claims in this area are not misleading.” 

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She said ASCI wants to ensure transparency with regards to green claims to protect consumer interests.

A task force is likely to be set by ASCI to review some of the green claims being made by brands sold on retail shelves. One key focus of the self-regulatory body will be to ensure specific claims with substantiation are encouraged instead of generalised sustainability claims

Several international bodies such as the European Commission have also in recent times proposed a framework to check on the growing scourge of greenwashing.

ASCI is also looking to bring guidelines in other areas. In March, ASCI invited public consultation to update its guidelines for ads in the education sector including emerging areas such as edtech.

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Kapoor said working on revised guidelines in the education sector, ASCI is also closely looking into the issues of “dark patterns” used by digital platforms that cause consumer harm. Dark patterns refer to the deployment of UI/UX BY digital platforms that can manipulate consumers choices and consumer patterns.