Within the Scope of Combating Greenwashing, Guideline on Misleading Environmental Claims in Advertisements Has Been Published


Tackling the adverse effects of the climate crisis has become a top priority for both governments and companies. The public’s awareness about environmental matters, especially sustainability, has increased greatly and companies attempt to reflect the importance of this issue through their environmentally friendly products and services. Recently, there have been increasing numbers of a malpractice called “greenwashing,” a deceitful marketing strategy employed by companies to falsely claim their products or services contribute greatly to the protection of the environment to attract more customers.

Monitoring this trend closely, the Board of Advertisement issued a Guideline on Advertisements Containing Environmental Declarations ("Guideline") at the end of 2022 to tackle such misleading claims. It provides guidance to all persons, institutions, and organizations about compliance of their environmental statements and visuals in their commercial advertisements and practices.

The Guideline specifies an environmental claim as a statement or visual in a commercial advertisement or practice which indicates that a good or service provides environmental benefits or does not have a negative impact on the environment during its composition, production, supply to the market, use or disposal processes. The Guideline holds advertisers, advertising agencies and broadcasting organizations individually responsible for environmental claims.

The principles in the Guide are similar to those in its counterpart in the European Union. Three months after the Guideline was published in Türkiye, the European Commission published the Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on Substantiation and Communication of Explicit Environmental Claims (Green Claims Directive). The Proposal states that consumers are willing to contribute to a greener and more circular economy, but such active and effective participation is hindered by lack of trust in the credibility of environmental claims and an increase in misleading advertisement practices regarding the sustainability of products. The Proposal sets forth regulations on two main topics: preventing greenwashing based on ambiguous or inadequately substantiated claims and ensuring the use of reliable and transparent environmental labels.

In 2023, the Board of Advertisement in Türkiye had greenwashing on its radar and in several decisions addressed cases containing environmental claims.

The following are decisions the Board issued after the adoption of the Guideline:

  • At a meeting dated 14.02.2023 and numbered 330, the Board examined the information and documents in the file 2022/6001 regarding an advertisement titled “Flat Packaging: An environmentally friendly idea.“ The Board held that flat packaging of the products resulted in the use of fewer vehicles for the shipping of the products, subsequently reducing fuel usage and carbon emission, and concluded that the advertisement was not contrary to the Law and the Regulation.
  • At another Board meeting dated 10.01.2023 and numbered 329, in the file 2022/4415, the Board accepted the objection against its initial decision upon assessing the information, documents and test results submitted as proof of the following claims: “Biodegradable Ingredients”, “It is made of 25% recycled plastic. (...) We aim to prevent the production of 70 tons of pure plastic on average with our bottles made of 25% recycled plastic.”, “100% recyclable packaging”. The objection, however, was rejected in terms of the comparative environmental claim “More Sensitive to Nature”. In its first decision, the Board had contended that the statements in the promotions were “environmental claims.” However, the Board pointed out that it was not clear whether the products were compared with the advertiser’s previous products under the same brand or with the competitors’ products. The Board added that the presented evidence should provide in a comparative manner the overall environmental impact of the detergents throughout the whole or a part of their life cycle. In the decision subject to the opposition, the Board ruled that the advertisements were also in violation of Articles 7, 9 and 17 of the Regulation.

The year 2023 saw policymakers in Türkiye and other parts of the world taking first steps towards regulating against greenwashing. Regulators are expected to define greenwashing more clearly and impose heavier repercussions on corporations for their exaggerated and misleading green claims to ensure that consumers will receive enhanced and accurate information about products and services.  

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