The much-awaited EU measures to counter rampant greenwashing have been unveiled. At first blush, the 'Proposal for a Directive on Green Claims' does appear to go a long way in cutting down unsubstantiated or misleading claims.
The announcement itself, made on Wednesday, came with an assertive tone: "Consumers will have more clarity, stronger reassurance that when something is sold as green, it actually is green, and better-quality information to choose environment-friendly products and services. Businesses will also benefit, as those that make a genuine effort to improve the environmental sustainability of their products will be more easily recognised and rewarded by consumers and able to boost their sales — rather than face unfair competition. This way, the proposal will help establish a level playing field when it comes to information about environmental performance of products."
The proposal invoked a 2020 study which had highlighted that 53.3% of examined environmental claims in the EU were found to be simply vague, misleading or unfounded, and 40% were unsubstantiated. The proposal is clear on this: "When companies choose to make a ‘green claim' about their products or services, they will have to respect minimum norms on how they substantiate these claims and how they communicate them."
The proposed Directive is about Green Claims, and the proposal makes no bones about cracking down on "labels" that makes these claims. The announcement underlined: "It (the Directive proposal) also aims to tackle the proliferation of labels as well as new public and private environmental labels. It covers all voluntary claims about the environmental impacts, aspects or performance of a product, service or the trader itself."
It would be a while before it becomes illegal to make such tall claims. The Green Claims Directive proposal will now be subject to the approval of the European Parliament and the Council. And subsequently, writ into law by the Member States.