Insights Committees of Advertising Practice publish advice note on making claims about recycling and recyclability


As we reported last week, climate change and the environment are currently high on the ASA’s and CAP’s agenda, so as CAP and BCAP make clear, it is more paramount than ever that advertisers familiarise themselves with the guidance in this area. Accordingly, CAP and BCAP have published a short advice note setting out some of the key features from the guidance and the ASA approach to recycling claims:

  1. claims about recycling and recyclability must be supported by evidence: marketers must ensure that they only describe products as being “recyclable” if they are actually capable of being recycled. Marketers should ensure they hold suitable evidence in substantiation of the recycling claims they make. Importantly, they should hold that evidence prior to the publication of any ad making such a claim. When making “recyclable” claims, marketers should not omit any salient information; for example, if a product can only be recycled in very limited circumstances. Further, claims should not give the impression that a marketer’s products are greener or more sustainable than they really are; for example, focusing on claims that represent a minor positive impact, when their main business produces significant negative effects. Marketers should also not make claims about the amount they recycle unless they hold evidence to that effect. The ASA ruled not to uphold a complaint made about an advertiser who claimed “94% of Waste Diverted from Landfill” after it was provided with robust evidence supporting that claim; and
  2. claims should not exaggerate the recyclability of a product: marketers must not exaggerate the recyclability of a product or its packaging. Consumers are increasingly conscious of trying to recycle the packaging and goods they consume. To this end, marketers should be cautious about making claims exaggerating the environmental credentials of a product that is not widely recyclable. The ASA has previously upheld complaints about claims that packaging “100% recyclable” when it contained a plastic element that was not widely recyclable.

To read the advice note in full on the CAP/BCAP website, click here.