EU plans to ban “climate neutral” and other sustainability claims

EU plans to ban “climate neutral” and other sustainability claims
January 2024
Climate Journal reporting

Climate Journal reporting Author

Article update:

On the 18th of January 2024, the EU Parliament gave the green light to the directive discussed in this article that will improve product labelling and ban the use of misleading environmental claims.

Highlights of the new regulation coming:

  • Generic environmental claims and other misleading product information will be outlawed 

  • Only sustainability labels based on approved certification schemes or established by public authorities will be allowed 

  • Guarantee information has to be more visible, and a new guarantee extension label will be introduced

Note:

The directive now also needs to receive final approval from the Council, after which it will be published in the Official Journal, and member states will have 24 months to transpose it into national law.

The original article below was published in November 2023.

Most companies are busy putting energy and resources into turning the wheel of their operation towards more sustainable business practices, measuring their environmental footprints and announcing sustainability strategies and pledges.

However, when it comes to communication, fighting greenwashing and deciding what is true and what is false regarding sustainability messages has become a major challenge for consumers, investors and other stakeholders.

According to the latest provisional agreement by the EU Parliament and Council, new rules are coming to ban misleading advertisements and provide consumers with better product information from 2026.

This proposal will hit hard on commercial communication using “generic environmental” claims or adopting questionable green marketing approaches.

These set of rules aim to combat greenwashing and help consumers make better purchasing choices.

The new regulation will banish the use of terms such as “environmentally friendly”, “natural”, “biodegradable”, “climate neutral”, or “eco” without proof of recognised excellent environmental performance relevant to the claim.

To combat misleading messages regarding a company or product’s carbon footprint that has become extremely popular, the new regulations will also ban claims based on emissions offsetting schemes that a product has a neutral, reduced or positive impact on the environment.

Practically, businesses must be prepared to have authentic and credible verification based on approved certification schemes or established by public authorities of any sustainable message they use regarding their products, services or the company.

Besides fighting greenwashing, the directive will also push commercial organisations to make guarantee information more visible, as many people are unaware that all goods enjoy at least a two-year guarantee in the EU.

The final vote by Members of the European Parliament is expected to take place in November 2023.

Upon approval, the directive will come into force, giving member states 24 months to incorporate the new rules into their law.


Climate Journal reporting

Climate Journal reporting Author