Europe is finally tackling greenwashing

On January 17, a major first European directive (Empowering Consumer for Green Transition) was voted on to fight against greenwashing in the field of communication and marketing. This is a giant step forward in this under-regulated world, but multiple problems still remain.

A first road map to fight greenwashing

In concrete terms, the aim of this directive is to ban various types of misleading messages related to environmental issues. In particular, the following examples can be found:

With this directive, the aim is therefore to integrate more transparency into the world of advertising and communication. Indeed, it is imperative that consumers are no longer deceived about the alleged environmental benefits of a product. This is to allow them to make their purchases with full knowledge of the facts.

In case of non-compliance with the new rules put in place, the advertiser may be subject to a penalty (which is a first!).

Unfortunately, everything is not perfect yet

The big disappointment of this text is that there is no prior verification of the advertisements before they are broadcast. It is therefore up to the authorities to check whether the rules are respected. Even citizens who will have to take this responsibility by filing a complaint. Let's see how this will take shape in each country (each country will have to decline the directive in its national law) and whether or not there will be an audit.

If that is the case, it will unfortunately be bad news. Indeed, today we can clearly see that this system of self-regulation does not work, or at least is far from optimal. Indeed, it is already possible to file a complaint against advertisements alleging greenwashing to the advertising ethics jury in your country, but before the verdict is published, the advertisement has already had time to be widely broadcast. This should therefore remain the case in these predisposals.

However, it is hoped that the integration of sanctions (currently there are none) as desired in the European directive will make it possible to deter brands and creative agencies from integrating greenwashing elements into their future advertising.

We will now have to wait for the 27 members of the European Union to transpose the directive into their respective national law by 2026. Obviously, it remains to be seen how they will translate it...


The summary of Ecos: https://ecostandard.org/news_events/eu-takes-aim-at-greenwashing-in-new-law-to-empower-consumers-but-gaps-remain/

The directive: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2014_2019/plmrep/COMMITTEES/IMCO/AG/2023/11-28/1289669EN.pdf

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