U.K. Greenwash Complaints Quadrupled in 2007

U.K. Greenwash Complaints Quadrupled in 2007

The number of complaints about UK ads that made green claims in 2007 was more than four times higher than greenwashing complaints in 2006.

Out of 24,192 total complaints about 14,080 ads the UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received last year, 561 were about 410 ads that made environmental claims. In 2006 there were 117 complaints for 83 green ads. And so far this year 109 complaints have identified 59 green ads as misleading, the Guardian reported.

In its 2007 annual report, the ASA says consumers were most confused about ads for carbon emission claims and green tariffs as well as green terms like sustainable and food miles. Consumers said they typically did not read the fine print or explanatory text in ads.

In the past year, the ASA has ruled against several green ads. A Shell ad depicting flowers coming from industrial smokestacks was ruled misleading for misrepresented the company's global environmental impact. A Lexus ad was deemed misleading for including the phrase "High Performance. Low Emissions. Zero Guilt." The ASA ruled the ad implied the vehicle caused little or no harm to environment and the ad's fine print was not prominent enough.