Tiger Brands greenwashing?

ImageThis is a record of my investigation into what appears to be typical “green-washing” advertising practices by Tiger Brands in South Africa.

Bio Classic fabric conditioner

Bio Classic fabric conditioner

Following this is a record of our correspondence so far. I will update accordingly:

From: Dylan Barsby [mailto:dylanbarsby@gmail.com
Sent: 20 May 2014 01:35 PM
To: Consumer Services
Subject: Enquiry about your product

Hello there,

I was in Pick n Pay in Gardens Centre, Cape Town yesterday and I looked at the label information on your “Bio Classic fabric conditioner” bags. I noticed it mentions “environmentally friendly” on the packaging, but offers absolutely no further information on how it might qualify for that status.

The South African Advertising Standards Authority states, among others, that “advertisements containing general statements such as “environmentally friendly”, “ozone friendly” or “green” or graphics or symbols designed to convey a similar environmental message, will not be permitted unless qualified by a description of the benefit conferred, for example: “ozone friendly -free from CFCs” “


Please explain to me how this product is “environmentally friendly” if, indeed, it is?

Kind regards,
Dylan John Barsby
+27 (0)73 220 5305

Desmond Govender replied on 24th May:

Good Day Mr. Barsby;

We are in receipt of your e-mail and thank you for taking the time to contact us.

Please receive confirmation that our formulation includes an ingredient which is biodregadable hence useage thereof does not impact negatively on waste water treatment plants.

We can assure you that we value consumer related feedback and have circulated your response to our Technical and Marketing Divisions as well.

Kind Regards
Desmond Govender

My response Sunday 25th May…

Thanks for your response Desmond.
You’ve confirmed for me that your labelling is quite clearly in violation of ASA guidelines and I will be bringing this to their attention.1) The description “environmentally friendly” is not qualified on your packaging, as it should be.

2) The fact that ONE ingredient in your formula is biodegradable does not make your ENTIRE product “environmentally friendly”. This is blatant green-washing which is a destructive, irresponsible and despicable practice.

I refer you once again to ASA’s guidelines: http://goo.gl/wuQbS1

I urge you to pay specific attention to points: 2.1; 2.3 & 2.4.

This article is also relevant http://goo.gl/j73Mdn

Tiger Brands’ actions come down to nothing more than Profit over People and Planet.



I have reported this to ASA via two channels and will report on their response.



Greenwashing – How to be a conscientious consumer in South Africa

7416783d5e67a11b55af760d3b9ea183_LLINK: Greenwashing – How do we use this concept for good?

One of my favourite articles on how advertisers trick us into thinking that a supplier is making efforts towards environmental responsibility. Once you read this, you’ll realise just how many lies surround us. This will help you figure out who and what to check and avoid.

I intend to share any future correspondence with suppliers regarding misleading product labelling. My first will be about some questions I asked Tiger Brands about their so-called “environmentally friendly” Bio Classic fabric conditioner.

Also click here to see the South African Advertising Standards Authority’s guidelines on Advertising containing environmental claims