False green claims have to be punished – new EU law

Unsubstantiated environmental claims about products could lead to sanctions. This is the case of a new EU bill that provides for “dissuasive” fines that EU member states will be able to impose on companies.

According to Euroactiv, the purpose of the bill is to help consumers make more informed choices about the products they buy.

The Commission’s draft states that nearly half (40 percent) of the environmental claims made about products (“green,” “eco-friendly” or “eco-friendly”) are “unsubstantiated.”

“Consumers lack reliable information about the sustainability of products and face misleading commercial practices like greenwashing or the lack of transparency and credibility of environmental labels,” the EU executive writes in a preamble to the draft law.

“Companies making ‘green claims’ should substantiate these against a standard methodology to assess their impact on the environment,” it adds, referring to the EU’s flagship Green Deal agenda, adopted in 2019.

To ensure the demonstration of green claims, EU member states will be asked to “establish a verification system to substantiate environmental claims,” which will have to be carried out by “independent verifiers.”

Most importantly, EU countries would be charged with the responsibility of enforcing “these rules” and imposing “penalties” on violators that “must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive,” the draft says.

Penalties should be based on general criteria, the draft said, which should include “the nature and severity of the violation” as well as the “economic benefits derived” from it and the potential damage to the environment.

Campaigners welcomed the move, saying that “it is imperative that member states set fines high enough” to discourage companies from violating the law.

“It is encouraging that the Commission intends to greatly enhance the role of market surveillance authorities in fighting greenwashing,” said Dimitri Vergne from BEUC, the EU consumer organisation.

The draft is to be submitted to the European Commission in the coming weeks.

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