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Green Business
hand with white glove that keep three dirty plastic glasses.
Photo by Brian Yurasits, Unsplash

On March 22, 2023, the European Commission proposed a Directive on Green Claims putting forward new rules to stop misleading environmental claims and ensure trustworthy information on the sustainability of products. It builds on the political commitment of the European Green Deal, the Circular Economy Agenda, and the New Consumer Agenda.

In the proposal on empowering consumers for a green transition an environmental claim is defined as a voluntary message or representation in the context of a commercial communication that states that a product or trader has a positive or no impact on the environment, is less damaging to the environment than others or has improved their impact over time. In 2020 the Consumer Protection Cooperation authorities examined 344 environmental claims in the EU and found that more than half gave vague, misleading, or unfounded information and 40% of claims had no supporting evidence.

Furthermore, environmental labeling schemes show a big range in transparency. Currently, there are about 230 labels in use in the EU with half lacking verification from a third party. This not only leads to confusion for the consumer but it creates an uneven playing field for companies making it hard to distinguish the companies that make a genuine effort to improve their environmental performance.

With the new proposal, rules are set on the governance of environmental labels and on how companies should prove their environmental claims and labels. All voluntary green claims will need to be independently verified and proven with scientific evidence, except those that are already covered by existing EU rules. For EMAS this means that its use does not submit to the proposal’s rules.

The European Commission created EMAS as a tool for companies and other organisations to systematically work on their environmental performance. The key objectives of the scheme are transparency, credibility, and the drive for real change. Therefore, EMAS organisations set up an environmental policy and continuously monitor, assess, and improve their practices to become more sustainable. Annually, the organisations publish an environmental statement to inform the public about their progress. Additionally, an independent third-party environmental verifier examines the organisation’s conformity to the EMAS Regulation.

The EMAS registration process aims to dismiss all kinds of greenwashing. Therefore, the EMAS logo stands for reliable environmental performance. This is rewarded by the new rules, excluding EMAS organisations from the duty to prove their environmental claims. European companies and organisations benefit from implementing EMAS, not only because they will improve their environmental impact in a structured way but also because they will show credible environmental outward communication.

For all of us, the new rules mean that making truly sustainable choices will become easier as we can trust more in the environmental labels and claims we see.

The European Commission published a video on their measures to tackle greenwashing including EMAS as a well-established EU initiative. To watch the video, click here.








Publication date
12 April 2023
Directorate-General for Environment