EU Parliament approves anti-greenwashing legislation

  • Written by Laura Houghton
  • Published on 19 January 2024
  • Blogs

Green paint-1Greenwashing has been high on the legislative agenda for some time now, starting in 2021 in the UK with the introduction of the Green Claims Code. In March of 2022, the EU moved forward with a set of proposals to amend the existing rules aimed at protecting and better-informing consumers with more detailed product information and how their products are made. More recently a study Commissioned by the EU found that more than half of green claims by companies were vague or misleading, with around 40% unsubstantiated.

On Wednesday 17th January 2024 the European Parliament voted 593-21 in favour of a new anti-greenwashing law, banning the use of unproven generic product claims such as “environmentally friendly,” or “climate neutral,” or marketing a product as having a reduced environmental impact by using carbon offsetting schemes.

Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, said:

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.

The directive comes after months of negotiations over how environmental claims will be regulated in the EU, with a deal reached in September that was approved by lawmakers on Wednesday. Member states now have two years to introduce the new rules.

The directive is aimed at ensuring consumers aren’t misled by banning the use of generic environmental claims not backed up with the relevant data and evidence required to substantiate the claims. Under the new directive, only sustainability labels using approved certification schemes will be approved. The law will also ban the use of claims based on offsetting schemes that indicate that a product has a neutral, reduced, or positive impact on the environment.

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