New directive on greenwashing in the pipeline

On 30 March 2022 the European Commission submitted a proposal for a new directive the purpose of which is to contribute to a more sustainable, clean and green economy, including by protecting consumers even more against greenwashing.

The purpose of the draft directive is to strengthen existing consumer legislation to enable consumers to make more informed choices and thus contribute to the creation of a more sustainable society.

The directive will imply amendments to both the Consumer Rights Directive and to the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.

The current Unfair Commercial Practices Directive includes neither a definition of environmental claims nor an explicit prohibition against greenwashing but this will be added to the Directive by the new draft directive. In this respect it is proposed to introduce a number of amendments to Articles 6 and 7 of the Directive about misleading actions and omissions and by ten additions to Appendix I of the Directive on various forms of unfair commercial practices that are always prohibited (the "black list").

It is prosed, for example, to add to Article 6 that traders may not submit environmental claims relating to future environmental performance (for example by working to become carbon neutral) without clear, objective and verifiable targets, which are also to be supported and monitored by an independent monitoring system.

The prohibitions on the black list are further increased by several forms of commercial practices which will always be prohibited, for example use of a sustainability label that is not based on a certification arrangement or is not created by the public authorities.

However, many of the new prohibitions on the black list and the clarifications of the prohibition against misleading practices correspond to that which already appears from the Consumer Ombudsman's guidelines on use of environmental and ethical claims etc from 2014 - read more here (in Danish). 

The proposal is now to be debated in the European Parliament and the Council, and consequently the time frame for the (potential) final adoption of the directive is still uncertain. 

Do you want to know more?

If you would like to know more about the rules governing greenwashing, please contact Plesner's Marketing and Consumer Law team.

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