January 18, 2024

MEPs Adopt New Law Banning Greenwashing and Misleading Product Information

Angela Kenny

Angela Kenny

FoodCloud Communications Team

On the 17th of Jan 2024 the European Parliament overwhelmingly adopted a directive banning the use of misleading environmental information on product labelling (593 in favour, 21 against, 14 abstentions).  The purpose of the directive is to introduce specific rules in the EU to tackle unfair commercial practices that often mislead and confuse consumers and prevent them from making more sustainable consumption choices. The directive seeks to provide clarity specifically around a product’s circularity, such as its durability, its repairability and its recyclability.

The directive includes many measures including the banning of the use of general environmental claims like “environmentally friendly”, “natural”, “biodegradable”, “climate neutral”, “eco” or “green”.  Detailed specific claims will be permitted but evidence must be available to the general public to back up such claims. In addition only sustainability labels based on official certification schemes or established by public authorities will be eligible for use on products in the EU.

Producers will have to be much more specific in all product advertising once the directive comes into effect. For example, product marketing will no longer be allowed to state ‘made with recycled material’, thereby giving the impression that the entire product is made of recycled material, if in fact only the packaging is made of recycled material. 

The directive also proposes a ban on advertising claims that a product has a neutral, reduced or positive impact on the environment through the use of emissions offsetting schemes. For instance, producers will no longer be able to claim that environmental actions such as tree planting in another part of the world has offset the emissions generated by the product's creation.. 

While the directive will also apply to food products, there is already a strict labelling regime in place in the EU around food standards, so the directive is unlikely to have as much impact in this area. For example, currently within the EU any food product labelled “organic’ must already comply with EU organic regulations and be certified by an approved body. 

The directive now needs to receive final approval from the European Council, after which member states will have 24 months to transpose it into national law. 

More information on the Empowering Consumers for the Green Transition Directive can be found here

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