Is the shower gel really climate-neutral or has the manufacturer turned a blind eye to the advertising? New rules should guarantee more reliable information – and also protect companies.
According to consumer advocates, planned rules on green advertising promises should apply to all products. The EU Commission wants to present a law against so-called greenwashing this Wednesday. This should enable consumers, for example, to better recognize whether a product that is marketed in a climate-friendly manner is actually less harmful to the climate and the environment or not.
“It is important that the rules apply to all product groups – from baby food to washing lotion. Consumer and environmental protection must be taken seriously by all manufacturers,” said the head of the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations (vzbv), Ramona Pop, the German Press Agency.
“Agree rules quickly before the European elections”
It’s good that the EU Commission finally wants to put a stop to greenwashing, said Pop. For far too long, consumers have been misled by claims, such as statements on packaging, about allegedly environmentally friendly products. “The European set of rules must now be decided quickly before the European elections and then implemented in all member states,” she said.
According to the Commission, the new rules should give consumers reliable information about the sustainability of products. This is not about mandatory information, but about voluntary statements by companies about products and organizations. According to a 2020 study by the agency, more than half of the claims made about the climate friendliness of goods were vague, misleading or unfounded.
Competitive advantage through consumer deception?
At the same time, the rules should also benefit companies that can genuinely substantiate their claims. Once the authority has presented the rules, the EU Parliament and the states must negotiate them.
The vice-president of the association of municipal companies, Patrick Hasenkamp, said that it should not be “that companies gain a competitive advantage by deceiving consumers about the supposedly positive environmental properties of their products.” It is therefore to be welcomed if manufacturer information has to be provided in a uniform and transparent manner throughout the EU.
Delara Burkhardt, environmental policy spokeswoman for the European SPD, said many people in Germany are willing to shop more sustainably. “But at the moment they cannot understand what really lies behind labels such as “recycled” or “environmentally friendly”. The EU Commission must introduce understandable and verifiable environmental labels that are uniform throughout Europe.” This would put an end to misleading marketing in Europe at the expense of the environment and consumers.