Consumers gain power: new EU law takes aim at corporate greenwashing

The European Parliament has given the final greenlight to the new Directive on Empowering Consumers for the Green Transition (ECGT), which will ban a series of greenwashing tactics, including climate neutral claims.

The new law aims to curtail a series of unfair company tactics that prevents consumers from making sustainable choices, according to the European Environmental Bureau (EEB).

The Bureau welcomed the law as an important step to counter corporate greenwashing, and noted that currently, 75% of the products on the EU market carry an implicit or explicit green claim, but more than half of these claims are “vague, misleading or unfounded”, while almost half of the 230 ecolabels available in the EU have “very weak or no verification procedures”.

The text, agreed upon last autumn in negotiations among EU institutions and member states, is now ready to be transposed into national legislation across the EU.

Vague green credentials will also be restricted: producers will only be allowed to mark a product as “eco” or “green” when the entire product is truly greener than conventional ones, and certified by a trustworthy scheme such as the EU Ecolabel. In addition, it will not be possible to advertise a product or a company as green if only a minor aspect of the product or business has been made more sustainable.

More rigorous oversight will also extend to sustainability labels, which will need to be backed up by third-party verification to ensure their credibility and reliability.

Miriam Thiemann, policy officer for sustainable consumption at the EEB, said the law “cuts through the smoke of misleading green marketing, putting a leash on shady claims and boosting the credibility of sustainability labels”.

She added: “People will also have access to more information about the durability and reparability of products before buying them. But we still need stronger rules to make durable, repairable products the norm.“

The Directive will now be published in the Official Journal of the European Union. After that, member states will have two years to adopt the new law in their national legislation.

Campaigners are also closely monitoring the development of additional policies that will complement the provisions of the ECGT Directive.

The Green Claims Directive, which will define what companies should do to prove and communicate green credentials, is yet to undergo negotiations and will unlikely be finalised before the European elections in June.

Related content

Leave a reply

Food and Drink Technology