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European Green Claims Directive

Green washing ? Green claims ? European directive?

Have you recently heard about a new regulation governing environmental claims and would like to find out more ? You've come to the right place !

What is the directive ?

On 22 March, the European Commission published its draft Green Claims Directive.

Claims Directive. This new proposal for a European directive is designed to regulate the use of environmental claims and thus combat greenwashing practices.

Why is this ?

General objective : to provide a framework for environmental communication practices and combat greenwashing.

What is an environmental claim or Green Claim ?

An "environmental claim" is a non-binding marketing message that claims or suggests that a product, service or professional has a positive or zero impact on the environment and/or that it is less harmful to the environment than other products, services or professionals. Regularly used by companies, this claim can take many forms, such as text, an image in advertising, a graphic representation, a symbol, a label, etc.

Here are a few examples of environmental claims:

  • Ecological

  • Recyclable

  • Good for the environment

  • In transition

  • Eco Friendly

  • Sustainable

  • Responsible cosmetics

What does this new regulation involve ?

The directive sets out a series of articles designed to curb the proliferation of unsubstantiated environmental claims, based on two types of requirements:

  • Requirement for claims to be scientifically justified

  • Requirement for communication and transparency of claims

A company or product making a claim directly related to the climate, carbon emissions or recycling in its advertising or communications must be particularly vigilant about the robustness of its methodology and provide transparent, reliable and accessible information.

What changes are in store for businesses ?

Article 3 of the directive plays an essential role in these new regulations, as it specifies the use of environmental claims. The European Union plans to specifically ask professionals to justify and provide evidence for each environmental claim used.

Companies using this type of claim must in particular:

  • Specify whether the environmental claims refer to the product as a whole or to a part of it (e.g. packaging only);

  • Take into account the life cycle of the product and all relevant environmental impacts and aspects (these justifications must be provided when applying for certification);

  • Ensure that what is claimed is not simply a legal requirement (as with the criterion of animal testing, which is already banned in Europe);

  • se both primary information (collected directly by the company on the products, i.e. the company's own data) and secondary information (bibliographical studies, analyses, technical documentation) in the assessment.

What will happen to environmental labels ?

The Green Claims Directive also aims to combat the proliferation of misleading environmental labels by setting stricter standards. This concerns both public labels such as the HVE (High Environmental Value) label and the organic label, as well as private labels.

The new public labels will have to be developed at European level, to promote greater regulatory consistency. The new private labels will be subject to more stringent conditions. Transparency will be ensured by disclosing information on the decision-making bodies of the bodies issuing the labels. In addition, labels will have to prove their environmental benefits through in-depth analyses verified by independent third parties.

The system for awarding labels will have to be certified by a third party and apply rigorous rules of transparency, excluding self-assigned or opaque labels. All new eco-labels will have to demonstrate their added value and obtain accreditation before being used on the market. Accredited verifiers will check claims before they are published. The directive also imposes strict criteria for approved rating systems, ensuring that they comply with European legislation on environmental labelling.

By strengthening the credibility of environmental labels, the EU wishes to offer consumers a reliable basis for their responsible consumption choices.

What are the risks of non-compliance with the directive ?

The penalties provided for under the Green Claims Directive for non-compliance with environmental communication rules are as follows:

  • Fines: Significant fines will be imposed on companies that use misleading claims and/or breach environmental legislation. These fines will act as a deterrent to such practices.

  • Confiscation of revenues: In addition to fines, the directive will also allow for the confiscation of revenues obtained through misleading environmental claims (up to 4% of turnover). This will aim to eliminate illegitimate financial advantages obtained through such practices.

  • Ban on public contracts and funding: Companies found guilty of non-compliance with environmental communication rules may be banned from participating in public procurement contracts and accessing specific funding. This will limit their business opportunities and could have a significant financial impact.

EU Member States will be responsible for carrying out regular checks to monitor the application of the rules and ensure that bans are respected. These checks will aim to maintain the integrity of environmental claims and preserve consumer confidence.

Important information : Companies with fewer than 10 employees and an annual turnover or balance not exceeding €2 million will be exempt from complying with the above requirements unless they wish to have a certificate of compliance issued by an auditor.

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