The green claims directive would oblige companies to submit evidence about their environmental marketing claims before advertising products as “biodegradable”, “less polluting”, “water saving” or having “bio based content”. EU countries would have to assign verifiers to pre-approve the use of such claims, to protect buyers from unfounded and ambiguous advertising.

Parliament wants claims and their evidence to be assessed within 30 days, but simpler claims and products could benefit from quicker or easier verification. Micro enterprises would not be covered by the new rules, and SMEs would have an extra year to be in compliance compared to larger businesses. Companies that break the rules may face penalties, for example they could be temporarily excluded from public procurement tenders, lose their revenues and face fines of at least at 4% of their annual turnover.

We reached out to Miriam Thiemann, Policy Officer for Sustainable Consumption, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), to find out more about how the updated green labeling system would help the industry and customers, as well.

Green claims based solely on carbon offsetting schemes will remain banned. Companies could, however, mention offsetting and carbon removal schemes in their ads if they have already reduced their emissions as much as possible and use these schemes for residual emissions only. The carbon credits of the schemes must be certified and be of high integrity, such as those established under the Carbon Removals Certification Framework.

Parliament also decided that green claims about products containing hazardous substances should remain possible for now, but the Commission should assess in the near future whether they should be banned entirely.

Environment Committee rapporteur Cyrus Engerer (S&D, MT) said that "it is time to put an end to greenwashing. Our position ends the proliferation of misleading green claims that have deceived consumers for far too long. We will ensure businesses have the right tools to embrace genuine sustainability practices. European consumers want to make sustainable choices; all those offering products or services must guarantee their green claims are scientifically verified."