Section 9 of the BCAP Code features detailed rules on environmental claims.
Advertisements claiming environmental benefits must be clear, must not mislead and must be supported by sound factual evidence. Complicated jargon should be avoided.
Absolute claims such as ‘environmentally friendly’, ‘safe’ and ‘green’ are unacceptable.
Qualified claims such as ‘environmentally friendlier’ are assessed on a ‘cradle to grave’ basis where the complete life cycle of the product and its packaging and the environmental effects of its manufacture, use and disposal must be shown to be environmentally friendlier.
A claim such as ‘kinder to the environment’ needs to be supported by evidence that, for example, the product involves improvements in the chemicals or packaging used. A claim such as ‘kinder to the environment than X’ needs to be supported by evidence that the product can demonstrate significant advantages over a competitor product. In both cases, the claims must be explained/qualified in the copy, e.g. ‘our products are kinder to the environment than X because they are biodegradable’. Claims of this nature may be referred to a Radiocentre consultant.
Limited claims, relating to specific aspects of products, are acceptable in circumstances where more general ones cannot be justified.
Claims based on the lack of a harmful chemical or damaging effect are not acceptable if the product category does not generally include the chemical or cause the effect claimed.
Advertising should follow DEFRA’s Green Claims Guidance.