Greenwashing and misleading product information

The European Parliament adopts new rules for product labeling.

The directive adopted last Wednesday (January 17th) with 593 votes in favour, 21 against and 14 abstentions seeks to protect consumers from misleading marketing practices and help them make better purchasing choices. To achieve this, a number of problematic marketing habits related to greenwashing and the early obsolescence of goods will be added to the EU list of banned commercial practices.

The new rules aim to make product labelling clearer and more trustworthy by banning the use of general environmental claims like “environmentally friendly”, “natural”, “biodegradable”, “climate neutral” or “eco” without proof. The use of sustainability labels will also now be regulated, given their huge proliferation and failure to use comparative data. In the future, only sustainability labels based on official certification schemes or established by public authorities will be allowed in the EU.

Additionally, the directive will ban claims that a product has a neutral, reduced or positive impact on the environment because of emissions offsetting schemes.

The directive now also needs to receive final approval from the Council, after which it will be published in the Official Journal and member states will have 24 months to transpose it into national law.

Companies can no longer market their goods using unfounded claims about their environmental impact and durability. © Firn / Adobe Stock

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