Explained: The New EU Carbon Offset Ban

The EU has enacted an unprecedented agreement to fight greenwashing – a deceptive tactic by businesses to appear more eco-friendly than they are. 

This new agreement bans unsubstantiated environmental claims, seeking to update laws on what the EU describes as “problematic marketing habits”.  

With new laws meaning that businesses can face potential penalties of up to 4% of their annual revenue, is your business ready for compliance? 

In this article, we dive deep into the new EU agreement and what it means for your business.  

What will be banned? 

Members of the European Parliament agreed on banning the following: 

  • Generic environmental claims including “environmentally friendly”, “natural”, “bio-degradable”, “climate neutral” and “eco”, without external certification or recognition 
  • Advertisements or commercial communication need to clearly outline features that limit durability 
  • Claims on carbon offsetting saying that the product is neutral, or has a reduced or positive impact on the environment are banned 
  • Sustainability labels without approved certification schemes are banned 
  • Durability claims must be proven and substantiated to be included 
  • The consumer cannot be prompted to replace consumables such as printer ink cartridges, earlier than strictly necessary 
  • Software updates that only enhance functionality features cannot be presented to users as necessary 
  • Goods cannot be presented as repairable when they are not 

What are the implications for different sectors? 

Several sectors will be impacted by the new laws. For certain sectors, the guidelines are clearly outlined. 

  • Aviation: Airlines can no longer suggest paying additional fees to offset flight emissions 
  • Appliances: Information on durability of products that can influence purchasing decisions need to be clearly outlined on the product 
  • Food manufacturing: The EU noted that grocery shelves are hosting some common claims related to the climate impact of foodstuffs, suggesting that products are ‘carbon neutral’, ‘CO2 neutral’, or ‘climate-neutral’. Food products cannot be labelled as carbon neutral if their production requires generating emissions. 

For more details and to see whether your industry is impacted, see here 

What’s next? 

The agreement must undergo final approval from both the Parliament and the Council to attain the status of law. This process is largely seen as a formality. The critical vote by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) is scheduled to occur in November. 

Upon the directive’s official enactment, the EU’s member states will be granted a 24-month window to integrate the freshly established regulations into their respective legal frameworks. 

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