India India Drafts Guidelines Against Greenwashing

India Drafts Guidelines Against Greenwashing

On February 20, 2024, the Central Consumer Protection Authority of India has announced the draft “Guidelines for Protection of Consumers against Greenwashing” under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, and is inviting public comments for a period of 30 days starting the same day. Greenwashing refers to false or misleading advertising of environmental claims related to a certain goods or services, of which the draft guidelines proposed provisions for such greenwashing advertisements. Scopes of application includes all advertisements regardless of form, format or medium, as well as service providers, product sellers, advertisers, advertising companies, and the like.


Definition of “Greenwashing”

  • any deceptive or misleading practice, which includes concealing, omitting, or hiding relevant information, by exaggerating, making vague, false, or unsubstantiated environmental claims
  • use of misleading words, symbols, or imagery, placing emphasis on positive environmental aspects while downplaying or concealing harmful attributes.
    *provided that use of obvious hyperboles, puffery, or the use of generic colour schemes or pictures; either not amounting to any deceptive or misleading practice are not included.


Definition of “Environmental claims”

Any representation, in any form, regarding:

  • a good (either in its entirety or as a component), the manufacturing process, packaging, the manner of use of the good, or its disposal
  • a service (or any portion thereof) or the process involved in providing the service, suggesting environmentally friendly attributes


Environmental claims mentioned above may include, but not limited to:

  • having a neutral or positive impact on the environment or contributing to sustainability
  • causing less harm to the environment compared to a previous version of the same product or service
  • causing less harm to the environment than competing goods or services
  • being more beneficial to the environment or possessing specific environmental advantages


However, any advertisements that is not specific to any product or service will not be applicable to the guidelines. To illustrate, a company in its mission statement makes a statement that “its growth will be based on sustainability principles”. For the purpose of these guidelines this will not be treated as environmental claim. However, if the company further makes a statement that “All its products are manufactured in sustainable manner”, then such an environmental claim will be examined for greenwashing.


Substantiation of environmental claims

All advertisement making environmental claims shall comply with following obligations:

  • Generic terms such as’ clean’, ‘green’, ‘eco-friendly’, ‘eco-consciousness’, ‘good for the planet’, ‘minimal impact’, ‘cruelty-free’, ‘carbon – neutral’ and similar assertions shall not be used without adequate qualifiers and disclosures.
  • While using technical terms like Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Ecological Footprint, one shall use consumer friendly language and explain its meaning or implications.


The following should also be kept in mind while making an environmental claim. Refer to each example and the problem lies therein:

  • Truthfulness and accuracy
    e.g. “Our packaging is made from 100% recycled materials.”
    Problem: Without verifiable evidence or certification, this claim might be misleading.
  • Clarity and unambiguity
    e.g. “Harnessing the power of sustainable technology!”
    Problem: Specific details about how the technology is sustainable should be disclosed.
  • Fair and meaningful comparisons
    e.g. “Our energy-efficient light bulbs outperform all others!”
    Problem: Claim lacks context and does not specify which bulbs are being compared. For fair and meaningful comparisons, the company should compare its bulbs to others with similar characteristics and intended uses.
  • Claims should be absolute and relevant
    e.g. A packaged product is labelled with an unqualified claim, “recyclable”
    Problem: It is unclear from the type of product and other context whether the claim refers to the product or its package.
  • Use of imagery without substantive changes
    e.g. A detergent advertisement showcases a family happily playing in an open grass ground, with the tagline, “Gentle on Clothes, Gentle on Nature”
    Problem: Without directly stating environmental friendliness, the imagery implies a connection between the product and a more eco-conscious lifestyle.
  • Endorsement by environmental organizations or experts or other endorsers
    e.g. “Recommended by leading environmental experts!”
    Problem: This claim implies an endorsement by environmental organizations. This may constitute a violation if there is no backing as specified above.


Many more provisions of adequate disclosures are proposed. Below shows a few important ones:

  • All environmental claims shall be accurate and disclose all material information either in the relevant advertisement or communication or by inserting a QR Code, URL (or any such technology or digital medium), which will be linked to relevant information.
  • While making disclosures in relation to environmental claims, data from research shall not be cherry picked to highlight only favorable observations while obscuring others that are unfavorable.
  • Aspirational or futuristic environmental claims may be made only when clear and actionable plans has been developed detailing how those objectives will be achieved.



Download the draft guidelines from below. It is recommended to check out the contents, as there are many more greenwashing examples explained in it:

Author / Responsibility

AOKI Kenji

Senior Consultant, EnviX Ltd.
General Director, E&H Consulting Co., Ltd.

Business Performance

Expertise in EHS (environment, health and safety) consulting in ASEAN region.
- Environmental regulations updating
- Chemical regulations consulting


MSc in Earth Science, The University of Tokyo

AOKI Kenji