European Parliament agrees to ban unverified green product claims

By a vote of 467 to 65, the European Parliament lawmakers enacted in a first reading a series of rules designed to safeguard consumers against greenwashing, which refers to deceptive environmental assertions made by companies according to the press release issued by the Parliament. According to these rules, companies are in future obligated to provide verification for product marketing claims like “less polluting” and “biodegradable” prior to their implementation.

The vote establishes the position adopted by Parliament regarding the “Directive on Green Claims” proposed by the European Commission. In March 2023, the EU Commission issued the draft of a directive aiming to provide consumers with dependable and verifiable information. This action was taken in response to a recent study which revealed that over 50% of green claims made by companies in the European Union were either ambiguous or deceptive, and an additional 40% lacked any supporting evidence.

Minimum requirements for businesses to substantiate, communicate, and verify their green claims were included in the proposal of the EU Commission. Businesses shall be obligated to provide scientific evidence and independent verification to ensure the veracity of their voluntary environmental claims. In addition, the directive aims to curtail the widespread use of private environmental labels by mandating their dependability, transparency, independent verification, and routine review. Furthermore, the directive shall aim to allowing new labels only if they were developed at the EU level, and their approved shall only occur if they demonstrate greater environmental ambition than existing label schemes.

The position adopted by the European Parliament would require the evaluation of green claims and evidence from companies within a period of 30 days. Additionally, the verification would be expedited and simplified for more prevalent and straightforward categories of claims. Green claims predicated solely on the utilisation of carbon offsetting schemes would be strictly prohibited under the regulations. However, companies would be permitted to reference offsetting and carbon removal schemes in their advertisements, provided that they have achieved maximum emission reduction, employ the schemes exclusively for residual emissions, and utilise only certified and high integrity carbon credits.

Small and medium-sized enterprises would be granted an additional year to adhere to the revised regulations, whereas micro enterprises would be granted an exemption. In addition, companies that violate the regulations would be subject to sanctions under the new regulation, including exclusion from public procurements and fines of at least 4% of annual revenue.

The file will now have to be followed up by the new European Parliament after the European elections that will take place in from 6 – 9 June 2024.


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Thursday, 21 March 2024
Thursday, 20 March 2025