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Advertising “Sustainability” and “Green Claims” in Products and Services in the EU: Fancy Commercial Practice Can Be a Real Legal Challenge

Mayer Brown
22/04/2021

The EU Green Deal announces the circular economy goal, which can only be achieved with the full mobilization of society and industry through the implementation of an integral EU policy for sustainability. Products and services should progressively become more “sustainable”, “environmentally friendly” and “green” and, ultimately, more respectful to the environment and society.

In line with this new trend, more and more companies advertise their products using a wide variety of “sustainability” and “green claims” (we note that the two terms do not have the same meaning, but will not focus on this distinction in the present short overview). Consumers often report being lost when navigating among all these numerous ecological labels, sustainability certification schemes and various self-made claims. Inevitably, this difficulty has a negative impact on brand credibility, the level playing field among the operators on the market and the overall level of consumer trust.

In such context, the European Commission has announced that companies will soon have to substantiate any sustainability or green claims they use in line with new harmonized EU rules and, most likely, a standard EU methodology capable of assessing, in a uniform manner, the impacts of products and services on the environment. These rules may also be accompanied by specific EU measures against “greenwashing”, possibly including sanctions. The forthcoming legislation should ensure fair competition on the EU market and boost the consumers’ trust.

In this Blog Post, we discuss important considerations for any company advertising sustainability or green claims, as well as the coming EU regulation in this space.

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