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Keeping you in-the-know on environmental, social and governance developments

Greenwashing is a major problem in the corporate world. Though not always intentional, greenwashing often misleads consumers into thinking that products are more sustainable than they actually are. We’ve covered many cases of regulators cracking down on advertisers whose claims aren’t quite up to par. A recent article in Beverage Daily reflects on the atmosphere of caution growing around sustainable advertisement and examines how claims based on offsetting are becoming more risky:

“Offsetting is controversial. While it does allow businesses to account for their carbon footprints and compensate accordingly, critics say it’s simply an easy way out and distracts from addressing the larger, structural problems within companies’ supply chains and production. A similar case was seen in a BrewDog Instagram ad in December for its carbon negative beer.  The caption stated: ‘Beer for your Grandchildren. From the World’s First Carbon Negative brewery. Find out how we’re working to ensure we have a planet to enjoy beer on via the link in our bio’. The ASA banned the ad because it failed to sufficiently outline that part of the claim relied on offsetting.”

Offsetting is a tricky practice because the quality of offsets varies widely depending on the type of offset and the methodological approach of the project. It seems like we’re hearing about junk carbon offsets on a regular basis. In fact, legislation passed in the EU in February will ban certain claims based on offsetting. Before making sustainability claims it is crucial to understand the rules and regulations of the jurisdictions where you advertise. Additionally, any claim based on offsetting should come with a clear disclaimer explaining that offsets were used.

Our members can find more information on greenwashing here.

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The Editor

Zachary Barlow is a licensed attorney. He earned his JD from the University of Mississippi and has a bachelor’s in Public Policy Leadership. He practiced law at a mid-size firm and handled a wide variety of cases. During this time he assisted in overseeing compliance of a public entity and litigated contract disputes, gaining experience both in and outside of the courtroom. Zachary currently assists the editorial team by providing research and creating content on a spectrum of ESG… View Profile