Published: 24 October 2022  (Updated: 24 October 2022)

ASA Ruling on Environmental Claims for Wipes

Upheld ASA ruling on biodegradable wipe claims.

CTPA has been tracking ASA rulings on environmental claims and has previously informed members of those which could be relevant for industry. 

On 19 October 2022, the ASA upheld another ruling investigated on environmental claims being made by a baby wipe brand.  The advert made statements regarding how quickly the wipes break down when disposed of, claiming to be 100% biodegradable, and stated, “Being biodegradable is important to us as it means today’s mess won’t be a problem for tomorrow’s generation”.

The brand provided reports from a biodegradability testing company to substantiate the claims, the tests related to the wipes’ biodegradation in landfill conditions and their biodegradation in home composting conditions.  Both tests used industry standard methods.  The test to reflect landfill conditions was an accelerated test, meaning the same level of biodegradation would be obtained in real-life conditions but it was the ASA’s view that the rate would depend on local conditions including temperature and humidity and the lab test cannot reflect all eventual scenarios.  During the tests the wipes were clean, however, it was the ASA’s view that baby wipes are generally not thrown away clean and the tests did not consider the effect this would have on the wipes’ biodegradation rate.

The ASA considered that consumers would understand the claim “Being biodegradable is important to us as it means today’s mess won’t be a problem for tomorrow’s generation” to mean that, once the wipe had been disposed of, it would not have any negative impact on the environment. The ASA concluded this to be an ‘absolute claim’ according to the CAP code and therefore would need a high level of substantiation, which was deemed not to have been provided.

The ASA found the advert to be misleading to consumers and in breach of multiple Broadcast Advertising code rules, including misleading advertising, substantiation, and environmental claims.

The ASA has released guidance on environmental claims and social responsibility here.

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