Who are the ASA, and what they do
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has a long track record in tackling problematic environmental claims, including issues like greenwashing and other forms of misleading and socially irresponsible green claims.
They’ve had dedicated environmental rules for around forty years, and believe they can credibly claim to have done as much as any UK regulator in dealing with misleading green claims.
This resource hub gives you an overview of the work they’ve already done, as well as ASA’s approach for the work they still have left to do.
You can help them to achieve their aim of reducing misleading green claims and putting a stop to environmentally irresponsible advertising by reporting your concerns about an ad you’ve seen. Help the ASA to keep our environment safe, and make sure all UK ads are legal, decent, honest and truthful.
The ASA applies the Advertising Codes, which are written by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) and Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP), to advertising across all different types of media.
There are different sections that apply to environmental claims and social responsibility.
There is a section in each Code which deals with environmental claims. As well as the section dedicated to environmental rules, both Codes also have a section that has rules to ensure ads are not misleading. These rules will apply to ads that feature environmental claims along with other rules that ensure ads are socially responsible.
Read more about environmental rules.
Advice and resources on the environment
In addition to the rules, the UK advertising watchdog also has an extensive amount of guidance and advice on numerous topics on their website. Many articles covering environmental issues.
Some of the articles that deal with environmental issues are –
- Environmental claims: General
- Environmental claims: General “Green” claims
- Environmental claims: Recycling
Read more about advice and resources on environmental issues.
The ASA may carry out a formal investigation, for complex issues, or a potential serious breach of the Advertising Codes. The ASA Council decides whether or not there has been a breach of the Codes and will issue the final ruling.
For example in a ruling made in July 2020, the claim “Drive carbon-neutral by filling up and using Shell Go+ today” was considered to be misleading. The ad did not make clear that Shell Go+ was a loyalty scheme and that customers using this scheme would have their carbon emissions related to that fuel purchase be offset by Shell (Shell UK Ltd, 8th July 2020).
Find out more about environmental rulings.
Climate change and the Environment project
The Earth’s climate emergency is a global issue that impacts all areas of society, and therefore every organisation has a role to play in shaping the future of our planet.
This is why the ASA has launched their own Climate Change and the Environment project. The ASA intend in the coming months and years to shine a brighter regulatory spotlight on ads that touch on the environment and are signalling an intention to take a tough line on ads that mislead or which are socially irresponsible where they identify issues with them.
Read more about the project work.
As well as COP26 taking place this year, other organisations are working on similar projects at this time. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and Advertising Association are just two of those that are looking at environmental issues at this time.
Ad Green unites the advertising industry to eliminate the negative environmental impacts of production.
The Advertising Association have announced their Ad Net Zero plan. The plan commits the ad industry to influence the creative content of ads to promote more sustainable messages. The ASA have contributed training material about the rules to their online training module, which will be made widely available to advertising industry professionals
The ASA has also worked closely with the CMA who have recently announced their own enquiry into this subject. The CMA has produced some new guidance, which they consulted with the ASA on.
Find out more about other organisations and their work.
As mentioned above, the ASA has lots of advice in this area for advertisers, and have been ruling on environmental claims in advertising for decades. But they appreciate that this area is constantly changing. So if the information doesn’t cover the specific environmental claim that you wish to make and you want to check if it is within the rules.
Don’t just be seen to be green, mean to be green.
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