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The EU Banned Greenwashing?



On January 17, 2024, the European Parliament gave the green light for a directive that will ban the use of misleading environmental (green) claims. These new rules aim to make product labeling clearer and more trustworthy by banning claims related to greenwashing.


Exciting, right?


The purpose of the new directive is twofold: 


(1) to protect consumers from misleading marketing practices 

and 

(2) to help consumers make better purchasing choices. 


As the EP’s rapporteur Biljana Borzan put it: “...companies can no longer trick people by saying that plastic bottles are good because the company planted trees somewhere – or say that something is sustainable without explaining how.”


The new directive is also meant to work together with the green claims directive, which is currently under discussion at the European Parliament. The upcoming green claims directive will be more specific and elaborate the conditions for using environmental claims in greater detail.


Which Claims Are Banned?

The new rules ban the use of generic green claims without proof. 


Examples include:

  • “environmentally friendly” 

  • “eco-friendly” 

  • “green”  

  • “environmentally correct’” 

  • “climate friendly”

  • “gentle on the environment”

  • “carbon friendly” 

  • “energy efficient” 

  • “biodegradable” 

  • “biobased”


What About Net Zero Claims

The new rules prohibit claims that a product has a neutral, positive, or reduced environmental impact related to greenhouse gas emissions based on offsetting schemes. 


Examples include:

  • “climate neutral”

  • “CO2 neutral”

  • “carbon positive” 

  • “climate net zero” 

  • “climate compensated”

  • “reduced climate impact”


Environmental Labels Are Covered Too

In the future, only labels which are based on a certification scheme or established by public authorities will be allowed. 


These labels must meet minimum conditions of transparency and credibility.


In certain circumstances, the label itself may be considered a green claim. 


What Happens Next?

The directive now goes before the European Council for (likely) approval. 


EU Member States will then have 24 months to bring these new requirements into national law. 


Don’t expect changes overnight, but it’s time to get ready!


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If you're interested in learning more about Source Beauty ESG and how I support companies of all sizes with their sustainability and impact initiatives - including environmental marketing claims - reach out (maggie@sourcebeauty.co) or check out the Source Beauty services guide.

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