If you advertise your products in Australia, you need to comply with various industry codes, including the Environmental Claims Code. These codes set out the rules your advertising and marketing materials need to follow. This includes advertising or marketing materials:

  • published or broadcasted in any medium;
  • that draws the attention of a segment of the public; and
  • that intends to promote or oppose (directly or indirectly) the:
    • product;
    • service;
    • person;
    • organisation; or
    • line of conduct.

The AANA Environmental Claims Code

Ad Standards is the advertising industry’s self-regulatory body. They administer several industry codes on behalf of the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA).

One of these industry codes is the AANA Environmental Claims Code (the Environmental Code). This code applies to you if your advertising or marketing collateral make express or implied claims relating to the environment. These claims could be:

  • an aspect of your product or service; or
  • a component of your product or service (for example, your product’s packaging).

Misleading or Deceptive

Under the Environmental Code, your advertising or marketing materials must not be:

Firstly, the central portion of the advertisement must be able to stand alone without being misleading.

For example, the central part of the ad should not need disclaimers or limitations to not be misleading.

In addition, disclaimers or limitations in the advertising or marketing collateral claiming environmental benefits need to be shown clearly and in plain sight.

For example, if the environmental benefit only concerns a particular aspect of your product or service, then you will need to specify this on the advertising or marketing collateral. You will need to do so to avoid being misleading or deceptive.

For example, your product’s packaging is made from environmentally friendly material. You cannot claim that your entire product is made from environmentally friendly material when this claim only applies to your packaging.

A Genuine Benefit to the Environment

Any environmental claim must be a genuine benefit to the environment. You also cannot use an environmental claim to imply that your product or service “is more socially acceptable on the whole”. You cannot disregard the non-environmental detriments of your product or service.

For example, you cannot use an environmental statement to claim that your product is, on the whole, socially acceptable when your product or service has other non-environmental detriments.

Furthermore, you cannot mislead a consumer to think you have voluntarily adopted an environmental practice if that practice is mandatory for all the businesses in your industry. You cannot mislead a consumer into thinking your business practice is ethical when you are merely adhering to a mandatory requirement.

Using Third-Party Testimonials

If you wish to use testimonials to make environmental claims, the testimonials have to be:

  • genuine;
  • current; and
  • sought from an informed person.

What Must I Do When Making an Environmental Claim?

Firstly, you must make sure you have a reasonable basis to make the environmental claim that you are making.

Secondly, you must be able to substantiate and verify the environmental claims you make. You also must meet any applicable standards in relation to those claims.

What Happens if Someone Makes a Complaint About My Advertising?

A panel appointed by Ad Standards handles any complaints made against advertisements. If a third party lodges a complaint about your advertising, you will be notified and requested to respond. The panel is then able to obtain expert advice on the information provided by you and the complainant.

Finally, the panel will consider the complaint and determine whether or not your environmental claim breaches the Environmental Code.

It is best practice to provide supporting documents or information concerning the environmental claim so that the claim is easily evaluated. Supporting documents or information could include any credible evidence concluded in a balanced manner or reports based on research and studies.

Key Takeaways

It is important that your advertising and marketing collateral comply with relevant industry codes. You will need to adhere to the code of practice outlined in the AANA’s Environmental Claims Code if your collateral makes environmental claims. If a third party has lodged a complaint about your advertising or marketing material, you will need to draft a response to the complaint. If you have any questions about how the AANA codes affect your advertising and marketing activities, contact LegalVision’s marketing compliance lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

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