EU Parliament Cracks Down On Greenwashing With New Consumer Protection Laws

EU Parliament Cracks Down On Greenwashing With New Consumer Protection Laws - Carbon Herald
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This week, the EU Parliament took a significant vote in favor of approving a set of consumer protection laws targeting greenwashing. This decision was made in response to the growing concern over companies misleading consumers with false environmental claims. 

In March 2023, the European Commission put forward a suggested “Directive on Green Claims” to tackle the issue of providing consumers with trustworthy and authentic information, following a recent study that revealed that over 50% of environmental claims made by companies in the EU were ambiguous or deceptive and 40% lacked any supporting evidence.

The Commission’s proposal outlined minimum standards for companies to support, communicate, and validate their environmental claims, mandating firms to guarantee the credibility of their voluntary green statements through independent verification and scientific proof. 

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The directive aimed to regulate the spread of private eco-labels. It also stipulated that new labels could only be introduced at the EU level and could only be approved if they showcased higher environmental aspirations compared to current label programs.

This week’s vote demonstrates the decisiveness of the EU Parliament in addressing this serious consumer protection problem. 

The new laws will require companies to verify any product marketing claims that suggest environmental benefits, such as being “biodegradable” or “less polluting,” before they can use them on the market. 

The regulations would also prohibit green claims that solely rely on carbon offsetting methods, but would permit companies to mention these schemes in their advertising as long as they have made significant efforts to reduce emissions and only use offsetting for residual emissions, utilizing certified and reputable carbon credits.

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The new rules would entail consequences for companies that violate them, such as being barred from public contracts and facing fines of at least 4% of their yearly earnings.

The proposed directive would grant small and medium-sized businesses an additional year to adhere to the new regulations, while microenterprises would be exempt from them. 

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