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EU's Green Claims Directive new anti-greenwashing rules
EU's Green Claims Directive new anti-greenwashing rules

Everything you should know about the new anti-greenwashing rules set by the EU's Green Claims Directive

Zazala Quist avatar
Written by Zazala Quist
Updated over a week ago

What’s the EU Green Claims Directive?

The Green Claims Directive is a proposed legislation by the EU, aimed at addressing the issue of greenwashing for all voluntary environmental claims (regardless of company size) made- and labels used in B2B and B2C marketing within the EU.

It provides a set of rules and requirements to regulate- and verify these various types of environmental claims (for products and services). Enforcing transparency and credibility to protect consumers- and encourage businesses to truly reduce their environmental impact. Once approved, the Green Claims Directive is expected to go into force in 2024.

The problem of greenwashing

The Directive is the result of an increasing occurrence of greenwashing within the EU. An EU study from 2020 found that over 53% of environmental claims examined were vague, misleading, or unfounded. Whilst 40% were even completely unsubstantiated.

This is an issue. As legislation and demand for sustainable products increase.

According to the Special Eurobarometer 501, 94% of Europeans prioritize environmental protection, and 68% acknowledge their consumption habits impact the environment.

Ineffective sustainable decision-making

The main problem of greenwashing: we can’t make effective sustainable decisions if the information these decisions should be based on -lacks any evidence, is unclear, or is dishonest.

This lack of credible evidence:

  • Slows down the sustainable progress we need to meet our climate targets;

  • Misleads B2B and B2C customers into making ineffective sustainable choices;

  • Creates unfair competition with companies who are genuinely environmentally responsible.

So, what kind of claims are we talking about?

What is a “green” claim?

A ‘green claim’ as defined by the EU, is a voluntary claim made by businesses that state or imply a “positive positive environmental impact, lesser negative impact, no impact, or improvement over time for their products, services, or organization”.

Additionally, these claims relate to the environmental impact, aspect, or performance of a product or company made over the entire life cycle of a product (from raw materials to end-of-life).

Think of claims such as:

  • “packaging made of 30% recycled plastic"

  • “this packaging has a low carbon footprint”

  • “this packaging is sustainable because…”

  • “this product is carbon neutral”

Environmental labeling schemes aren’t left out

The Directive also addresses the issues in environmental labeling. There is a huge increase in private labels (the EU already identified 230), of which many differ in robustness and reliability. The result: public skepticism.

Therefore, the directive states that environmental labeling schemes should be solid and reliable, and their proliferation must be controlled. This means EU level schemes should be encouraged. While new public schemes, unless developed at EU level, will not be allowed. New private schemes are only allowed if they can show higher environmental ambition than existing ones and get pre-approval

The proposal does guarantee the reliability and trustworthiness of the EU Ecolabel, which is already regulated by Union legislation.

What are the EU’s proposed rules for green claims?

1. Climate-related Claims are scrutinized.

Climate-related claims, particularly those relying on carbon offsets or credits, are scrutinized to prevent ambiguity and misleading consumers.

Companies must transparently distinguish between (1) emissions reductions in their own operations and (2) those achieved through offsets, ensuring the integrity and accurate accounting of offsets.

2. Scientific, data-driven evidence: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

Claims must be substantiated with scientific evidence that is widely recognized. Such as the evidence calculated using the method Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). This identifies the relevant environmental impacts and any trade-offs between them. Material statements, such as ‘this is made of 30% recycled materials’ also require scientific studies as proof.

Does the Green Claims Directive require ISO-verified LCAs?

The EU's Green Claims Directive does not require companies to make an LCA according to ISO or perform an ISO verification of their LCAs. As they state the accompanying costs and time are not scalable and realistic for the market to meet the set climate targets. The rules provided by the Green Claims Directive state how companies should make proper scientific environmental claims (LCA-based), grounded in transparency so they can be accessed and checked by anyone.

3. Fair comparisons

If the environmental benefits of products or organizations are compared with other products and organizations, these comparisons must be fair and based on equivalent information, methodology, and data

4. Transparency & verification

Environmental claims and labels must be completely transparent and accessible, verified by a third party (such as Pickler), and regularly reviewed on their relevance (is the data up to date?).

What’s the penalty for greenwashing in the Green Claims Directive?

Qualified entities, including consumer organizations, will have the authority to take legal actions under the Representative Actions Directive to protect consumers when traders are suspected of not meeting substantiation requirements for green claims.

How do you prepare for the Green Claims Directive?

Companies can prepare for the Green Claims Directive by calculating the environmental impact of their products according to an LCA methodology. Whilst also already adhering to the rules of communication defined in the directive and national consumer protection authorities (such as the rules by the Dutch ACM).

This way compliance granted by independent verifiers, becomes more likely.

Pickler helps packaging companies make and share footprint calculations for their packaging claims in sales and marketing - completely in line with the Green Claims Directive.

Our LCA methodology, software, and output (i.e. our impact widgets) adhere to all EU rules. Pickler functions as a third-party verifier for your claims as required by the Green Claims Directive.

Contact our sales today or start the 14-day free Pickler trial - to make risk-free environmental claims for your packaging!

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