EU: Are New Greenwashing Regulations on the Horizon?

The EU Commission has proposed a directive against misleading environmental and sustainability claims. The EU Parliament and the European Council must approve the proposal for it to come into force.

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Greenwashing is common practice, the EU Commission wants to take action against it (Photo: Axel Bueckert/
Greenwashing is common practice, the EU Commission wants to take action against it (Photo: Axel Bueckert/

The European Union could soon have common criteria to combat greenwashing and misleading environmental claims. A proposal for such a directive was presented on March 22, the Commission announced in its official press release,

According to the EU, 53 percent of all "green claims" used to promote products or services spread vague, misleading or unverifiable information. 40% of the claims are not based on any scientific evidence. According to the Commission, consumer confidence in these environmental and sustainability claims is extremely low. In addition, there is a proliferation of more than 230 different sustainability and environmental labels used in the EU, which can have very different standards and levels of transparency.

Consumer transparency is key

The goal of the proposal is to provide clarity and reassure consumers that something sold as environmentally friendly is actually environmentally friendly. It is also intended to reward companies that make a genuine effort to improve the environmental performance of their products, which have until now faced a number of unfair competitors.

Specifically, the directive stipulates that "green claims" must be verified by independent bodies and accompanied by scientific evidence. In addition, labels that provide an overall assessment of a product's environmental impact will now only be permitted if they are specified in EU regulations. In the future, when comparing products or organizations with others, such comparisons would have to be based on equivalent information and data.

Strict regulations

To limit the proliferation of labels, only those developed at EU level would be permitted. The proposed directive still needs to be approved by the EU Parliament and the Council of Europe before it can come into force.

At Meininger's International Wine Conference, Professor Michael Bernecker gave a presentation on greenwashing to a large audience of interested wine industry professionals.



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