Watchdog urges advertisers to clarify green household waste claims

28/11/2023

Watchdog urges advertisers to clarify ‘green’ household waste claims

The advertising watchdog has called for clarity around household waste terms such as “recyclable”, “biodegradable” and “compostable” after finding they were confusing and potentially misleading.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found that people were likely to understand the differences between products that could be recycled and had been recycled, but were more confused about the term “compostable”.

Participants in the study were most unsure about the term “biodegradable”, and expressed anger and frustration when they learned that this term could refer to an unlimited timescale and that some products could release toxins upon degrading.

The study found people were proud of their efforts with “green” disposal at home, usually in the form of regular recycling collections, and saw it as a way of “doing their bit” for the environment.

But it found consumers broadly treated green claims in ads uncritically, which risked them having an oversimplified understanding of the terms and how green disposal worked in practice.

The ASA is now calling on advertisers to make sure they are using green disposal terms clearly to allow consumers to make informed decisions about how to responsibly and effectively get rid of waste.

It will work with advertisers in the early part of next year to help them “adapt in the light of our findings” but warned it would later act “where necessary on any claims that are likely to mislead consumers”.

ASA chief executive Guy Parker said: “We’re committed to playing our part in combating climate change. This new research shows that the public are keen to dispose of waste in a responsible and effective way, but they need more clarity to better understand the claims being used about disposal. Ads have a role to play in that education.

“We want to help businesses get it right and to feel confident talking about their green initiatives. Our event, combined with this research and new training and e-learning, will offer valuable tools to advertisers to get it right.

“As we enter the beginning of our next five-year strategy, we will continue to help advertisers make sure their ads are legal, decent, honest and truthful.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub



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