22 March 2023, the European Commission proposed common criteria against greenwashing and misleading environmental claims. The proposal will give consumers more clarity and certainty that when something is sold as "green", it indeed is, and better information to help them choose environmentally friendly products and services.
Companies will also benefit: those who make a real effort to improve the environmental sustainability of their products will be more easily recognised and rewarded by consumers and can thus boost their sales instead of facing unfair competition.
In this way, the proposal will contribute to a level playing field in terms of information on the environmental performance of products.
A 2020 Commission study found that 53.3% of environmental claims investigated in the EU were found to be vague, misleading or unfounded, and 40% were unsubstantiated.
The lack of common rules for companies making voluntary green claims leads to "greenwashing" and creates an uneven playing field in the EU market, to the detriment of genuinely sustainable companies.
Clear and harmonised rules and labels
Several rules will ensure that claims are communicated unambiguously. For example, claims or labels that use aggregated scores for the overall environmental impact of the product will no longer be allowed unless such scores are defined in EU rules. If products or organisations are compared with others, such comparisons must be based on equivalent information and data.
The proposal also regulates environmental labels. There are currently at least 230 different labels and there is evidence that this leads to consumer confusion and distrust.
To combat the proliferation of such labels, governments will no longer be allowed to establish new labelling schemes unless they are developed at EU level, and new private schemes will have to show greater environmental ambition than existing schemes and receive prior approval.
There are detailed rules for eco-labels in general: they must also be reliable, transparent, independently verified and regularly reviewed.
Milieufacts interprets and informs!
Every month, the Centexbel and Fedustria Milieufacts offers you a series of interesting articles on the environment and environmental legislation specifically aimed at Flemish textile, plastics and textile care companies.