EU greenwashing legislation leak “out of date” asserts EEB
16 Jan 2023 --- Major news outlets are claiming a leaked draft from the European Commission (EC) has revealed the EU’s likely plans for revising its Green Claims code, which takes action against companies greenwashing their products with false or exaggerated environmental sustainability claims.
Part of the EU Green Deal, the revisions – which have been in the works since last year – could mean packagers will face court if their product marketing is deemed misleading or omits important environmental information.
The Financial Times, which claims to have seen the leaked document, quotes the draft: “By fighting greenwashing, the proposal will ensure a level playing field for businesses when marketing their greenness. Climate-related claims have been shown to be particularly prone to being unclear and ambiguous and to mislead consumers, amounting to greenwashing.”
However, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) says the leak is out of date and unreliable.
“Although we are aware there is a leak of the green claims proposal, we know this information is very out of date, and so it is not appropriate to comment on it,” Blanca Morales, EEB’s senior coordinator for EU ecolabel, tells PackagingInsights.
We have reached out to the EC to verify the claims made about the leak.
The green claims jungle
Last year, the EC made a vow to crack down on misleading advertising under the Consumer Rights Directive. Recommendations stated that traders must inform consumers accurately of product durability and reparability.
The EC also proposed several amendments to its Unfair Commercial Practices Directive to fight greenwashing by creating a “black list” that includes practices such as making generic or vague claims about a product’s environmental footprint, displaying sustainability labels unverified by third parties, and making claims about an entire product when the claim is only real to one part.
“Our position remains that the EU needs to urgently regulate the jungle of green claims and labels. Greenwashing does not only sow confusion and distrust among consumers, but it also undermines the efforts of businesses that provide genuinely green products and services,” says Morales.
The PEF methodology
Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) is “the best” LCA methodology available, asserts Morales.
The EC defines PEF as a multi-criteria measure of the environmental performance of a good or service throughout its life cycle. PEF information is produced to aim to reduce the environmental impacts of goods and services, taking into account supply chain activities from extraction of raw materials, through production and use, to final waste management.
PEF Category Rules are divided into 16 impact areas, including ozone depletion, human toxicity, acidification and eutrophication.
“However, regulating green claims will also require looking beyond its 16 impact categories, notably when other environmental impacts are significant to a particular product or service. This means that the initiative should offer a framework for regulating claims beyond just PEF,” says Morales.
“We also need strong governance and public scrutiny of the rules, methods and data underpinning claims. Companies should be required to disclose the evidence which underpins their claims.”
“We urge the EC to finalize their proposal as quickly as possible so that progress can be made in this political term.”
By Louis Gore-Langton
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