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Important update on the EU Green Claims Directive

Last week we reported that some EU members were seeking to water down the Green Claims Directive. Now we have some clarity on what the Directive’s likely scope will be. 

On June 17, 2024, the European Council adopted a new ‘general approach’ to the Green Claims Directive, aimed at addressing greenwashing. This directive sets minimum requirements for the substantiation, communication, and verification of explicit B2C environmental claims, and will be the basis for upcoming negotiations with the European Parliament.

Key Points of the new proposal

1. Clear, evidence-based claims:

  • Environmental claims and labels must be substantiated using the latest scientific evidence.
  • Claims must be clear, easy to understand, and explicitly reference the environmental characteristics they cover (e.g., durability, recyclability, biodiversity).

2. Prior verification and simplified procedure:

  • Green claims must be verified by independent third-party experts before publication.
  • Certain types of claims may be exempt from third-party verification if compliance can be proven through a technical document.
  • Microenterprises will have an additional 8 months to comply, and additional support measures will be provided for SMEs and farmers.

3. Public environmental labels:

  • Established local or regional public labelling schemes could be exempt from third-party verification if they meet directive standards.
  • EN ISO 14024 type 1 ecolabelling schemes recognised by a member state will be valid for the entire EU market.

4. Climate-related claims:

  • All climate-related claims must be substantiated.
  • Claims involving carbon credits must report the type, quantity, and permanency of credits.
  • Distinction will be made between contribution claims (climate action) and offset claims (balancing emissions), with additional requirements for proving net-zero targets and decarbonisation progress.

Next Steps

The EU Council’s general approach will guide upcoming negotiations with the European Parliament to decide the final directive. We will provide further details as they become available.

What does this mean for UK business? 

The Green Claims Directive will impact any businesses making environmental claims to EU citizens, requiring adherence to stricter standards in communicating green credentials. If you are a B2C business with EU customers, you will fall within the scope of this directive, so it is essential to ensure that your sustainability claims are clear, accurate, and verifiable. 

Even if your business is not directly affected, the increasing scrutiny on environmental claims indicates a broader trend. Staying ahead of these changes by enhancing transparency and accuracy in sustainability practices will be crucial for maintaining credibility and regulatory compliance.

Need a helping hand? Get in touch with our specialists or download our Anti-greenwash Playbook to learn more about how to avoid greenwash in your communications.

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