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Supporting sustainable choices and ending Greenwashing

The Commission is proposing common criteria against greenwashing and misleading environmental claims.

In accordance with the current proposal, consumers will have greater clarity, greater assurance that when something is marketed as “green,” it is in fact green, and higher quality information to choose environmentally friendly products and services.

Businesses will also benefit, as those who make genuine efforts to improve the environmental sustainability of their products will be more readily recognised and rewarded by consumers, allowing them to increase their sales without unfair competition.

Thus, the proposal will level the playing field for product environmental performance information.

Reliable, comparable and verifiable information for consumers

According to the proposal, when businesses choose to make a ‘green claim’ about their products or services, they must follow minimal standards for how these claims are substantiated and communicated.

The proposal targets explicit claims like “ocean friendly sunscreen,” “T-shirt made of recycled plastic bottles,” “CO2 compensated delivery,” “packaging made of 30% recycled plastic,” etc.

It also aims to tackle the proliferation of labels as well as new public and private environmental labels. It covers all voluntary claims about the environmental impacts, aspects or performance of a product, service or the trader itself.

However, it excludes claims that are already governed by existing EU regulations, such as the EU Ecolabel or the organic food logo, because the existing laws already guarantee the validity of these claims. For the same reason, claims that will be covered by forthcoming EU regulatory rules will be excluded.

Clear and harmonised rules and labels

Several rules will ensure that claims are clearly communicated. For instance, claims or labels that employ an aggregate score of the product’s overall environmental impact will no longer be permitted unless specifically permitted by EU regulations.

When comparing different products or companies, comparisons should be made using comparable facts and figures.

Environmental labelling will also be regulated under the proposal. There are currently at least 230 different labels, which has been linked to consumer confusion and distrust.

Next steps

In accordance with the standard operating procedure for legislation, the Green Claims Directive proposal will next be submitted for approval to the European Parliament and the Council.

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