EU Fights Greenwashing Through Green Claims Proposal.

EU Fights Greenwashing Through Green Claims Proposal.

The Malta Business Bureau organised an information and consultation session with businesses on the EU’s proposal for a ‘Green Claims’ Directive. The proposal aims to combat greenwashing by obliging companies to substantiate and independently verify environmental claims they make about their consumer products and services.

According to the proposed rules, business would have to substantiate their claims against a set of tangible criteria. This includes specifying whether the claim applies to the whole product or service or just a part of it, providing scientific evidence to back up the claim, demonstrating significant environmental impacts from a lifecycle perspective, and other criteria. Even more stringent requirements are being proposed for claims which compare products and services with those of other competitors, to ensure fairness.

MBB President Alison Mizzi commented that, “businesses are voluntarily investing in initiatives which improve the efficiency of their operations and reduce their environmental impact. At the same time, there has been a rise in claims which are somehow vague or very difficult to quantify in practice. Such claims make it challenging for consumers to reliably compare between sustainability credentials and creates an uneven playing field at the expense of companies which invest to properly substantiate their claims.”

MBB EU Policy Manager on Sustainability Gabriel Cassar provided an overview of the proposal’s main elements and what they mean for businesses in practice. He explained how the proposal goes further by also obliging companies to independently verify the substantiation of environmental claims.

A national body in each member state will be tasked to accredit verifiers to carry out such assessments. Verifiers must be independent from the businesses they are supplying their services to and must have the appropriate qualifications and infrastructure to carry out verification. Mr. Cassar adds that upon successful verification of a claim, a conformity certificate would be awarded to the businesses making the claim, which can be used anywhere in the EU.

MEP Cyrus Engerer delivered an intervention to highlight his priorities on this proposal as Co-Rapporteur for the ENVI committee within the European Parliament. Salient issues include regular revisions of environmental labelling schemes, incentivizing the use of primary information, and clarifying vague terms in the proposal, among others.

MHRA CEO Andrew Agius Muscat expressed their support in principle for the Green Claims Directive, to properly recognize the work of genuine organisations which believe in sustainability. Mr Agius Muscat stressed the need to minimize bureaucracy, support SMEs, monitor costs, and to afford appropriate transition periods for businesses to adapt to the new requirements.

The Malta Chamber Policy Executive (Sustainability) Gabby Grech Larsson delivered the organisation’s perspective on the proposal, seeing it as a keyway to ensure the proper scientific substantiation of environmental claims and prevent greenwashing. Ms Grech highlighted how recent EU data shows that almost half of green claims are completely unsubstantiated.

Environmental labelling schemes have emerged as an attractive avenue for businesses to promote the sustainability credentials of their products and services. To avoid the promotion of excessive unregulated schemes, the Commission is proposing a ban on new schemes by member states. Existing schemes, and schemes from outside the EU may be allowed if they comply with the requirements under this Directive and are approved by the Commission.

The proposal for a Green Claims Directive is a key file to further reliable information to consumers in the green transition. The MBB has been working closely with national and EU policymakers to put forward the views and concerns of Maltese businesses. Those interested in further information are encouraged to contact the MBB EU policy team on infobrussels@mbb.org.mt.

The Malta Business Bureau is the EU business advisory organisation of The Malta Chamber and The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association. It is also a partner of the Enterprise Europe Network.

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