As early as 2021, trade-e-bility had informed that the European Commission was taking action against “Greenwashing” of products. Now the specific measures planned are taking shape. As reported by the EU Commission, on 22 March 2023 the Commission published a Proposal for a Directive on substantiation and communication of explicit environmental claims (Green Claim Directive). Under the proposal, companies that make voluntary environmental claims about their products or services must comply with minimum standards. These relate both to how these statements are to be substantiated and how they are communicated. The proposal aims at explicit advertising claims, such as: “T-shirt made from recycled plastic bottles”, “climate-neutral shipping”, “packaging made from 30% recycled plastic” or “ocean-friendly sunscreen”.
Before companies include any of the types of environmental claims in question in their consumer information, these claims must in future be independently verified and substantiated on the basis of scientific evidence. Companies will conduct a scientific analysis to identify the environmental impacts that are actually relevant to their product and also any trade-offs in order to provide a complete and accurate picture.
In future, several provisions will ensure that this information is communicated in a relevant manner. For instance, advertising claims or labels that give a blanket assessment of the product’s overall environmental impact will no longer be allowed, except where EU rules so provide. Where products or organisations are compared with others, such comparisons should be based on equivalent information and data.
Furthermore, the increasing proliferation of public and private eco-labels is to be tackled. The proposal covers all voluntary advertising claims about environmental impacts, aspects or performance of products, services and the traders themselves. However, environmental claims covered by existing EU legislation, such as the EU Ecolabel, are excluded, as existing legislation already ensures that these regulated claims are reliable. Environmental claims covered by future EU regulatory provisions are excluded for the same reason. There are currently at least 230 different signs. To control the spread of such signs, new public labelling schemes will only be allowed if they are developed at EU level. New private schemes will have to demonstrate that their environmental targets are more ambitious than those of existing schemes. In addition, they must be approved in advance. There are detailed rules on eco-labels in general: They must also be reliable, transparent, independently audited and regularly reviewed.
Following the ordinary legislative procedure, the proposal for a “Green Claims” Directive must now be approved by the European Parliament and the Council.
Recommendation: Distributors should be very careful with the claims and advertising of their products. Well-meant statements on the sales page can result in reactions from the supervisory authorities. trade-e-bility offers a cost-effective precautionary instrument with its "Product Compliance Audit in Online Shop".
The trade-e-bility advisory team will be happy to assist you via email@example.com or +49/40/750687-300 for solutions to secure your sales success, especially for questions regarding labelling obligations of products or packaging.