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Green Claims Directive: will the EU lose its fight against greenwashing?

Date

13 Feb 2024

Sections

Climate & Environment

Brussels, 13 FebruaryThe European Parliament's upcoming vote on the Green Claims Directive may potentially create a framework that allows companies to make environmental claims without rigorous verification, derailing thus the very purpose of the Green Claims legislation and undermining its raison d’être. 

Ahead of tomorrow's vote, TIC Council, representing the Independent Testing, Inspection, and Certification sector, i.e. the verifiers of environmental claims in the Commission proposal, urges members of the ENVI and IMCO committees to revisit critical elements of the proposal. This reassessment is crucial to protecting consumers from misleading environmental claims and to upholding the purpose of the Green Claims legislation:

  1. Fast verification system or a two-step process: The verification process of claims is directly linked to the complexity of the claim itself and to the quality and quantity of the information shared by the manufacturer with the verifier. The proposed two-step verification process both introduces unnecessary complexity and fails to adequately protect consumers from greenwashing. There is significant risk that an initial quick check could approve a claim, only for a detailed assessment to later reveal it as an unfair commercial practice, practically misleading consumers. 
  2. Presumption of conformity: Allowing a presumption of conformity contradicts the Directive's goal of establishing a mandatory ex-ante verification system for all environmental claims. This loophole could enable the continued proliferation of unchecked and potentially misleading claims, limiting the Directive's effectiveness and consumer protection.
  3. Time limit for the verification: Setting a fixed timeline for claim verification is impractical due to the varying complexities of claims, the volume of verifications required as well as the thoroughness of documentation required from manufacturers. This provision raises concerns regarding liability, the potential market entry of unverified products and the practicality of reinitiating the verification process. We are not aware of other pieces of legislation setting a deadline for conformity assessment.

The essence of the Green Claims Directive is to ensure that voluntary environmental claims do not enter the market without proper verification by an accredited third party. TIC companies are already performing this crucial role, fostering trust among manufacturers and consumers. Watering down verification requirements would compromise the Directive's foundation, failing to protect verifiers, producers and consumers alike. A mandatory ex-ante verification for all claims is essential to safeguard consumers from unfair commercial practices and greenwashing”, commented Marc Boissonnet, ESG Director at TIC Council.

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