Environmental Advertisements: The End of the Greenwashing Era
If we start this article with “The Greenwashing Era Has Come to an End,” we wouldn’t be wrong. The concept of “green PR” and “green marketing,” which is used to convince consumers that a company’s products, goals, and policies are environmentally friendly and often deceptive, has been a topic of great debate in the advertising world for a long time. Research conducted by the European Commission in 2020 sheds light on the extent of greenwashing. According to this research, over 50% of statements made in environmental advertisements contain vague, misleading, or false information.
For many years, there was no real obstacle in the way of this marketing strategy that companies used to mask the harm they cause to the environment or to change consumer perception. However, recent regulations concerning environmental claims have emerged in the UK and the EUwhich will significantly restrict companies from making environmental claims. In Turkey, the Advertising Board, which is the advertising authority, also published the “Guide on Advertisements Containing Environmental Claims” (“Guide”) on 09.02.2023, in line with Article 17 of the Regulation on Commercial Advertising and Unfair Commercial Practices.
1. Environmental Claims
Before delving into the regulations introduced by the new Guide, it is necessary to determine what environmental claims are. As listed in the Guide, all advertisements that contain expressions such as “green,” “sustainable,” “eco-friendly,” “nature-friendly,” “environmentally friendly,” “environmentalist slogans,” “zero waste,” “recyclable,” “environmentally safe,” “energy-efficient,” “recycled,” “carbon-neutral,” “renewable,” “green energy,” and similar terms must comply with this Guide.
2. General Principles
The Advertising Board has outlined a general framework for environmental advertisements. In this regard, it is prohibited to use these advertisements and the signs, symbols, and approvals in them to deceive consumers. Advertisers also have an obligation to act honestly in accordance with general provisions. The Advertising Board particularly emphasizes signs and symbols to draw the attention of advertisers.
Another important point emphasized by the Board is that general terms like “environmentally friendly” should not be used vaguely without any explanation. According to the Guide, in such advertisements, explanatory information should be provided to consumers or they should be directed to sources where they can obtain detailed information.
|ECO-FRIENDLY BATTERY |
For detailed information about our Environmental Policies, visit www.XXBattery.com/environmentpolicy.
3. Certificates and Approvals
The Guide requires that certificates and approvals related to environmental claims used in advertisements must be based on information and documents obtained from national authorized institutions and organizations, relevant departments of universities, or accredited research, testing, and evaluation organizations. Additionally, consumers should be informed about the meaning of these certificates or approvals.
|GREEN UNIVERSE CERTIFIED * |
*For detailed information about Green Universe, visit www.verygreenuniverse.com/certificate.
4. Biodegradability Statements
The Guide mandates that biodegradability statements must be based on information and documents obtained from national authorized institutions and organizations, relevant departments of universities, or accredited research, testing, and evaluation organizations.
Statements about biodegradability must also include information about the rate and scope of degradation.
|Naturally Decomposable! |
*Fully degrades between 48-64 months.
5. Recyclability Statements
The issue of recycling forms the core of environmental advertisements. The Board has requested that these statements clearly indicate whether they apply to the entire production process of the product or only to a specific part of it.
|RECYCLABLE BOTTLE |
6. Recycled Content Statements
According to the Guide, in order to claim that a product is “recycled,” it must contain recycled raw materials. It is unlawful to use this claim solely for a renewed product.
7. Renewability Statements
In advertisements containing renewability statements, it is mandatory to specify the source of renewable energy. Additionally, the proportion of renewable energy used in the product’s production processes must be disclosed.
|A+ Shirts |
*80% produced using wind energy.
8. Administrative Fines
In case of non-compliance with the Guide published by the Board, administrative fines or suspension measures can be imposed according to Article 77 of the Consumer Protection Law:
- If it occurs through a local television channel, a fine of TRY 69,411.
- If it occurs through a nationwide television channel, a fine of TRY 1,388,526.
- If it occurs through a local or satellite radio channel, a fine of TRY 34,701.
- If it occurs through a nationwide radio channel, a fine of TRY 347,128.
- If it occurs through a satellite television channel or the internet, a fine of TRY 347,128.
- If it occurs through text messages, a fine of TRY 173,553.
- If it occurs through other media (such as packaging), a fine of TRY 34,701.
Comprehensive regulations now exist regarding environmental claims that advertisers have been sharing without any risk for many years. The Board will start making new decisions in line with these Guide provisions. Therefore, it is essential to review environmental advertisements in line with the Guide provisions.
 Environmental claims in the EU: Inventory and reliability assessment Final report, European Commission 2020. Available at https://ec.europa.eu/environment/eussd/smgp/pdf/2020_Greenclaims_inventory.zip
 Proposal for a DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on substantiation and communication of explicit environmental claims (Green Claims Directive)