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European Union adopts new rules against greenwashing

Feb 6, 2024 European Union
European Union adopts new rules against greenwashing
By 593 votes to 21, the European Parliament approved a new directive to eliminate unverified environmental claims and empower consumers to make sustainable purchasing choices
The Greenwashing Directive aims to contribute to the EU’s green transition by enabling consumers to make informed choices based on reliable sustainability information about products and traders. To this end, it includes several measures to protect them from deceptive practices, where brands exaggerate or mislead consumers about a product’s environmental impact.

Companies will not be able to use claims like “respectful of the environment”, “respectful of animals”, “green”, “vegan”, “biodegradable”, or “eco”, unless they are supported by scientific evidence in line with European legislation or recognised certification schemes.

Similarly, statements such as “climate neutral”, “certified CO2 neutral”, and “carbon positive” will be banned, as they often mislead consumers into believing that the production of a product has no environmental impact, often based on the principle of offsetting through carbon credits – however, studies have shown that purchased carbon credits may not deliver equivalent climate benefits.

To make consumers more aware of a product’s durability, the Directive will also oblige manufacturers to provide specific information on its lifespan and repairability; the same transparency will apply to digital products, where manufacturers will have to indicate the period of availability of free software updates. In addition, a new harmonised label will be created to highlight products with an extended warranty.

The Greenwashing Directive must now be given final approval by the EU Council and then officially published. Member States will have two years to implement it nationally and make it law.

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