The European Commission has proposed new rules that may soon require companies to back up their eco-friendly claims.
The new rules, if passed, would regulate labels such as “natural,” “climate neutral,” and “recycled content,” which brands often use on their product packaging to appear more sustainable.
It would require brands to offer proof by carrying out a scientific assessment of their environmental impacts or have an accredited verifier check their claim before they can use sustainability-focused labels.
Brands that make climate-friendly claims without undergoing the verification process could face fines.
The new rules have been proposed in an effort to crack down on rampant greenwashing as a European Commission-sponsored study of 150 products’ environmental claims found that 53% offered vague, misleading, or unfounded information.
“That’s why we had to react – because those false claims, greenwashing, by the companies have become more and more sophisticated,” said EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius.
Sinkevicius added that the rules would help consumers differentiate between brands that offer sustainable products from others that make spurious claims, whether they are shopping for clothes, cosmetics, or electronic products, according to Reuters.
Environment groups welcome the proposed rules, but they have highlighted the importance of standardization across the EU as brands could use different data sets to back up their claims, creating loopholes in the review process.
“You could have one product assessed by two different methodologies, and that would give you completely different results,” said Margaux Le Gallou, program manager at the non-profit Environmental Coalition on Standards.