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You can now go to CASE for greenwashing related claims, according to minister Alvin Tan

You can now go to CASE for greenwashing related claims, according to minister Alvin Tan

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According to Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan, consumers who encounter instances of greenwashing based on claims made by suppliers can now approach the Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE) for help with the case. Tan said this in Parliament this week in response to a question about possible greenwashing-related laws. 

He noted that as yet, no specific complaints of greenwashing have been received by CASE but that the government will continue to monitor developments on greenwashing. These complaints can include a company making false claims about the environmental benefits of a product of services. 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE reached out to CASE to confirm this and Mr Melvin Yong, the president of CASE, confirmed the statement. 

"As at 21 March 2023, CASE has not received any consumer complaints related to greenwashing," Yong said. 

Don't miss: Coca-Cola's COP27 greenwashing backlash: Can brands win over sceptics?

Additionally, there are also existing guidelines under the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice which was developed by the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) that requires advertisers to clearly explain, substantiate and qualify any environmental claim where necessary, according to Tan. 

ASAS has also not received any recent complaints about greenwashing claims, according to Professor Ang Peng Hwa, the chairperson at the ASAS council.

The news is welcome particularly for environmentalists who have in the past found issues with the way certain brands advertise their environmental or sustainability claims. One such instance was in 2021 when South Korean cosmetic brand Innisfree was criticised for "greenwashing" the eco-friendly packaging of its Green Tea Seed Serum. According to an image circulating online on a Facebook group called "No Plastic Shopping", as well as in a four-second video posted on Innisfree's Facebook page last August, the paper bottle contains a plastic bottle when the packaging is cut open. Ironically, the words on the packaging read: "Hello, I'm paper bottle".

One netizen claimed to feel "betrayed" upon finding out that the allegedly eco-friendly bottle contains plastic, daily English-language newspaper The Korea Herald said, while another user reportedly filed a complaint to a consumer centre regarding Innisfree's supposed "green washing labelling".

Another instance more recently happened when sustainability review platform Wherefrom reacted to a slew of ads by Mercedes-Benz meant to promote Mercedes-EQ, its line of electric cars. Wherefrom called out the automotive maker for greenwashing after Mercedes-Benz associated its brand with the beauty of nature in its ads.

The original ads showed images of nature from a rose to the veins of leaves, a honeycomb, and lightning. A circle is placed in the middle of the ads to showcase the Mercedes-Benz symbol. At the bottom of each ad reads "Nothing or Nature. Climate change. It's already here. Mercedes EQ."

Related articles:
Innisfree criticised for 'false advertising' after plastic found within paper bottle
Mercedes-Benz distances from sustainable ads called out for greenwashing
Is COP27's image dented with sponsor Coca-Cola being top plastic polluter?

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