EU to ban “greenwashing” and improve consumer information

Only sustainability labels based on approved certification schemes or established by public authorities will be allowed, under new EU rules.
EU moves to ban "greenwashing" in proposed new rules announced this week. Photo: Adobe Stock.
EU moves to ban "greenwashing" in proposed new rules announced this week. Photo: Adobe Stock.

"Greenwashing", the practice of making an unsubstantiated or misleading claims to convince consumers that a company's products are environmentally friendly or sustainable, will soon be banned under proposed new EU rules.

Generic environmental claims such as "environmentally friendly", "natural", "eco" or "climate neutral" will no longer be permitted without robust proof, if the EU proposals go ahead as planned.

Sustainability claims must be backed by certification

Other practices subject to the ban will include claims of carbon neutrality based on emissions offsetting schemes, and sustainability labels that are not based on approved certification schemes or established by public authorities.

The move, designed to tackle what the EU refers to as "problematic marketing habits", is intended to better protect consumers from misleading "green" marketing, and thus also "help them make better purchasing choices", the EU said in a press statement.

In order to become law, the provisional deal will now have to obtain final approval from both the European Parliament and the European Council. MEPs wil vote on the new rules during November. If approved, once the directive comes into force, EU member states will have 24 months to incorporate the new rules into their law.

What do the new EU greenwashing rules mean for seafood and aquaculture?

If approved, the new EU rules will apply not only to food but to the entire spectrum of consumer goods.

However, within the seafood and aquaculture industries, the proposed legislation will further bolster the importance of industry-led sustainability certification schemes, such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC).

Traceability initiatives, such as the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST), are also likely to grow in importance if the new greenwashing rules are signed into law, as non-EU companies selling consumer products within the EU will need to back up any sustainability claims with substantial proof.

Commenting on the proposed new rules, GDST's Stakeholder Engagement Lead Richard Stavis told WeAreAquaculture that he believes such regulation of greenwashing is "needed" and "essential to creating trust and confidence in the products that consumers buy."

"The GDST is not a certification and is not consumer facing. That said, we support rules such as this that enhance traceability and transparency in supply chains," he added.

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