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Govt sets March 21 deadline for public comments on guidelines to curb greenwashing

New Delhi, Feb 20 2024-

The Central Consumer Protection Authority has sought public comments on Draft Guidelines for Prevention and Regulation of Greenwashing, which is a misleading practice of making false environmental claims in ads to sell products.

Draft Guidelines are placed on the website of the Department of Consumer Affairs and are accessible through the link: https://consumeraffairs.nic.in/sites/default/files/fileuploads/latestnews/Draft%20Guidline%20with%20approval.pdf

Public comments/suggestions/feedback are solicited and may be provided to the Central Authority within 30 days (until 21th March 2024).

The draft guidelines define Greenwashing as “any deceptive or misleading practice, which includes concealing, omitting, or hiding relevant information, by exaggerating, making vague, false, or unsubstantiated environmental claims and use of misleading words, symbols, or imagery, placing emphasis on positive environmental aspects while downplaying or concealing harmful attributes.”

Guidelines will be applicable to all advertisements and Service provider, product seller, advertiser, or an advertising agency or endorser whose service is availed of for the advertisement of such goods or services.

The guidelines also provide the provision that vague terms such as ‘green’, ‘eco-friendly’, ‘eco-consciousness’, ‘good for the planet’, ‘cruelty-free’, and similar assertions to be used only with adequate disclosures.

The guidelines prescribe various disclosure that would be required to be made by the company making green claims. The various disclosures are:-

*Ensure all environmental claims in ads or communications are fully disclosed, either directly or through technology like QR codes or web links.

*Avoid selectively presenting data to favorably highlight environmental claims while hiding unfavorable aspects.

*Clearly define the scope of environmental claims, specifying whether they relate to products, manufacturing processes, packaging, product usage, disposal, services, or service provision processes.

*All environmental claims shall be backed by verifiable evidence.

*Comparative environmental claims that compare one product or service to another must be based on verifiable and relevant data.

*Substantiate specific environmental claims with credible certification, reliable scientific evidence, and independent third-party verification for authenticity.

The guidelines also provide that aspirational or futuristic environmental claims may be made only when clear and actionable plans has been developed detailing how those objectives will be achieved. (Agency)

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