Until recently, there was no regulation specifically applicable for advertisements containing environmental claims. In the absence of specific regulation, the Advertisement Board has previously conducted its evaluations of such advertisements pursuant to the provisions included in the Advertising Regulation stating that advertisements must not abuse consumers’ environmental sensitivity or lack of knowledge in this field.
For example, the Board determined in a decision rendered in October 2022 concerning a transportation company’s social media advertisements that the company had saved CO2 emissions equal to 250.000 trees by the date of the post that the advertisement did comply with the burden of proof for environmental claims and that the advertisements abused consumers’ environmental sensitivities and lack of knowledge of the field. In conclusion, the Board issued a cease order with respect to the mentioned advertisements.
On the other hand, the Board in another decision rendered in October 2022 evaluated that the following statements “Aiming to Become the Greenest Airline of Our Country and Region, We [sic] reduce our Carbon Emission 20% by 2030!” included in the advertisements published by an air transportation company comply with advertising rules as these are related to the company’s future targets and appear to be made pursuant to the company’s open and verifiable strategy.
In December 2022, the Guideline on Advertisements Containing Environmental Claims was published. The Guideline consists of both detailed principles regarding advertisements containing environmental claims and practice tips. Some of the prominent provisions are as follows:
- General expressions such as “green”, “sustainable”, “eco”, “environment-friendly”, should not be used without further explanation or in a manner that causes ambiguity for consumers.
- Advertisements should contain detailed information pertaining to what the environmental claim is about, for, and how it is used, and whether it wholly or partially pertains to the life cycle of the product.
- Environmental claims pertaining to rules of legal & production procedures and standards should not be communicated in a manner that would give the impression that the compliant goods or services being advertised are different or superior to their rivals or equivalents.
- Environmental claims related to targeted future environmental impacts of goods or services may be used in advertisements only if such claims are included in a strategy plan that is publicly available and verifiable.
- Comparative environmental claims in advertisements must be explicitly communicated, particularly if the advertiser compares the advertised product with rival products or previous products of its own brand.
- Any communication incompatible with sustainable consumption, which underestimates the seriousness of consumer behavior that causes environmental pollution or waste accumulation, encourages non-recyclable packings, or directs consumers to ignore the environmental impact of their behavior, encourages for or tolerates improper waste disposal, must be avoided.
The increasing prevalence of environmental claims in advertisements has precipitated the enactment of this Guideline. We believe that the Guideline, prepared by taking into account the sensitivity of consumers to such advertisements and their serious environmental effect, will be useful for clarifying the regulations for advertisers and establishing a consistent and predictable practice.