This browser is not actively supported anymore. For the best passle experience, we strongly recommend you upgrade your browser.
| 1 minute read

Advertising Aspirations for Reducing Environmental Impact Invites Charges of Greenwashing

Last week, the New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against JBS USA Food Company, leading producer of beef products, alleging that the company mislead the public about its environmental impact by claiming it will achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.    The lawsuit highlights the challenges facing companies that wish to advertise a commitment to sustainability by expressing hopes or promises of achieving an environmental benefit in the future.   Although JBS USA claims that it will achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions, by reducing its direct and indirect emissions and offsetting residual emissions, the NYAG complaint alleges that JBS has documented plans to increase production, and therefore increase its carbon footprint.

The lawsuit also brings into focus the role of advertising self-regulation and the review of environmental advertising by the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the BBB National Programs.  Last year, NAD recommended that JBS USA discontinue claims relating to its goal of achieving “net zero” emissions by 2040 because of insufficient substantiation.  According to NAD, “when aspirational claims are tied to measurable outcomes an advertiser must be able to demonstrate that its goals and aspirations are not merely illusory and to provide evidence of the steps it is taking to reach its stated goal.”  JBS USA appealed the decision to the National Advertising Review Board (NARB) and the recommendation was upheld on appeal. 

The NYAG alleges that JBS USA failed to comply with the NAD and NARB recommendation, and now seeks injunctive relief, disgorgement of profits and other penalties.   

JBS USA continued to make these false claims despite receiving a warning from BBB National Programs’ National Advertising Division (NAD), which determined that the company’s evidence did not support the net zero claims it was making to consumers. The NAD recommended that JBS USA stop making these net zero claims in its advertising.


advertising & media, advertising disputes, advertising marketing & promotions