The new proposal of the EU Commission against Greenwashing

On March 22 the EU Commission has released the Green Claims Directive, a new proposal for how companies should communicate and substantiate environmental claims to fight “greenwashing.”

This proposal that emerged in Brussels concerns labels with a sustainable background: companies that choose to make ‘green’ declarations on their products or services will have to comply with a series of minimum standards on how to develop them and communicate them on the market.

This is a real change: fashion brands need to know in detail which criteria to take into consideration when spreading messages related to the sustainability characteristics of their products.


This EU Commission’s proposal is part of the third package on the circular economy envisaged in the Green Deal, i.e. the package of Community policy initiatives whose goal is to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

In the EU Commission’s sights are labels that boast words such as “natural”, “climate neutral” or “with recycled content”.

According to the institution, 53.3% of the indications on the environment and climate provided on the label by a large sample of products were “vague, misleading or unfounded”,
and 40% were completely inconsistent and unsupported by data.

(A survey conducted on sustainability claims in 2014 and 2020 on a sample of 150 environmental claims. These products were evaluated according to the parameters of clarity, uniqueness, accuracy and verifiability)

The initiative aims to create awareness on consumers and provide greater reassurance that what is sold is effectively low environmental impact: “tackling false environmental claims made towards consumers and stopping the proliferation of public and private environmental labels” by way of “a clear regime for environmental claims and labels.”


The companies that want to communicate sustainability information about their products will first have to do an adequate scientific and measurable assessment.

By quantitatively analyzing its environmental impact to demonstrate how its products live up to what is declared.
It will then be up to a third party to verify and approve the declaration before it can be used publicly, under penalty of financial penalties.

These steps represent the end of sustainability self-declaration and the obligation to demonstrate through external mechanisms that your fashion products have the right characteristics to qualify as sustainable.

This will contribute to having shared parameters for inserting sustainability data and creating a standardized structure.


– The proposal covers explicit claims made voluntarily by businesses for consumers, which relate to the environmental impact, aspect, or performance of a product or the trader itself. It also addresses environmental labeling schemes, stopping the proliferation of public and private labels and ensuring transparency and robustness of labeling schemes.

– Member States will be responsible for setting up verification and enforcement processes, to be performed by independent and accredited verifiers, as follows.

– The EU also speaks directly to “climate-related claims that are based on carbon offsets or carbon credits: Companies “should focus on reducing emissions in their own organization or value chain,” the Commission states, noting that “companies have to be transparent about what part of [a carbon] claim concerns their operations, and what part relies on buying offsets.” 

-“Common rules promoting the repair of goods,” which it says will help “contribute to sustainable consumption by several measures that promote repair, and make repair easier and more attractive for defects consumers may experience throughout the lifecycle of goods.” 

– The recipients will be companies operating in the EU with over 10 employees and a turnover exceeding 2 million euros. Suitable measures for accessing credit and organizational technical assistance are envisaged for micro-enterprises.

It notes that “companies will have to ensure the reliability of their voluntary environmental claims, and transparently communicate their claims,” and that “their claims will need to be checked by an independent verifier against the requirements of the Directive.” 


Now that the greenwashing-centric proposal has been formally presented by the EU Commission, the European Parliament and Council will now consider its adoption “through the ordinary legislative procedure, which will allow for the introduction of amendments and will take at least 18 months.

However, it is already having some effect

Given the expected needs in the European market to disseminate messages related to sustainability, many companies are responding with the so-called “greenhushing” or also known as “eco-silence“.

A new marketing technique consists in eliminating any message related to sustainability for fear of putting the brand’s reputation at risk.

The companies don’t want to be sued when they fail to meet sustainability goals and they don’t want to be accused of greenwashing.

They want to avoid criticism, but even that can be considered greenwashing because they don’t provide accurate information about their climate goals.

If you want to fight greenwashing and greenhushing you need to have access to transparent information about your supply chain. start watching this video and then book a call with us.

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