EU Parliament clamps down on ‘greenwashing’ claims based only on carbon offsetting

EU legislators yesterday approved the adoption of new regulations requiring companies to substantiate and verify...

EU legislators yesterday approved the adoption of new regulations requiring companies to substantiate and verify their environmental claims and labels. 

The move came after the EU found more than half of green claims by companies in the bloc were vague or misleading, and 40% were completely unsubstantiated.

The new Directive on Green Claims is meant to address the need for consumers to have reliable and verifiable information, the European Commission said. 

The Commission’s proposal lays out the minimal standards that businesses must meet for their environmental claims to be independently verified and demonstrated. The European Commission also said companies will also be required to identify environmental impacts relevant to their products, and to identify any possible trade-offs. 

The European Parliament has now proposed adding a new requirement to forbid green claims that say a company is “carbon or climate neutral” if this is solely based on carbon offsetting schemes. 

The Commission’s proposal also includes a ban on generic labels such as ‘environmentally friendly,’ ‘carbon neutral,’ and ‘green,’ among others, without providing detailed evidence. Parliament’s amendments added several terms to the list of generic claims, including ‘natural,’ ‘animal-friendly,’ ‘cruelty-free,’ ‘sustainable,’ ‘deforestation-free,’ ‘plastic neutral,’ and ‘plastic-free.’  

“Product labels will inform citizens which goods are guaranteed to last longer and producers whose goods are more durable will profit. The jungle of false environmental claims will end as only certified and substantiated ecological claims will be permitted,” MEP Biljana Borzan said.  

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