On the 22nd of March the Environment Department of the European Commission published the “Proposal for a Directive on substantiation and communication of explicit environmental claims”, also known as Green Claims Directive.
This initiative aims to avoid greenwashing, the practice of companies to share misled labels and claims with the purpose to trick consumers with a false impression of environmental impacts or benefits of a specific product. The need for a law that regulates green claims and labels arises from the fact that lots of environmental claims are not reliable, and consumers’ trust in them is extremely low. In fact:
- 53% of green claims give vague, misleading or unfounded information
- 40% of claims have no supporting evidence
- Half of all green labels offer weak or non-existent verification
These problems are particularly evident in Europe, where there are 230 sustainability labels and 100 green energy labels in the EU, with vastly different levels of transparency.
With this new Directive, EU oblige companies to prove their environmental claims and the performance of their products and organisations by using robust, science-based and verifiable methods. When companies choose to make a green claim about their products or services, they will have to respect minimum norms on how they substantiate these claims and how they communicate them.
Final goal of the new legislation is to have common, clear and harmonised rules to let consumers trust all the labels and claims.
«Green claims are everywhere: ocean-friendly t-shirts, carbon-neutral bananas, bee-friendly juices, 100% CO2-compensated deliveries and so on. Unfortunately, way too often these claims are made with no evidence and justification whatsoever. This opens the door to greenwashing and puts companies making genuinely sustainable products at a disadvantage. Many Europeans want to contribute to a more sustainable world through their purchases. They need to be able to trust the claims made. With this proposal, we give consumers the reassurance that when something is sold as green, it actually is green» said Frans Timmermans, the Executive Vice-President of the European Green Deal, in an official statement.
For more information
EU press release (22 March 2023): Consumer protection: enabling sustainable choices and ending greenwashing
Proposal for a Directive on Green Claims (22 March 2023)