Green washing or honest advertising?

More and more labels announcing environmental benefits, such as “100% organic” or “Good for the environment”, adorn consumer products. With these labels the producer suggests that this product is more environmentally friendly than other similar products. But what if it was legally mandated that all such products must be 100% biodegradable? Would it still be allowed to make these self-proclaimed ‘environmental claims’?

There are existing regulations for the use of labels and claims for some products, like the energy labels on fridges, washing machines and lights. For other products, where there is no existing regulation, ensuring the truth of these environmental claims is the responsibility of the Dutch and EU advertising commissions. The latter bases its criteria on the ISO 14021 guidelines for self-proclaimed claims (including environmental claims) of producers, importers and traders and does not require verification from third parties. With these guidelines, they stimulate trustworthy advertising and work against unfair competition and misleading claims.

What are the requirements for a claim?

In short, claims need to be:

  • Clear
  • Accurate and up-to-date
  • Verifiable
  • Relevant
  • Supported
  • Not misleading

Authentication file

For producers of food and non-food products meant for the European market, CREM checked an environmental claim and made an authentication file. This file contains all the processes, scientific methods and criteria that the claim is based on. The file guarantees both verification and that questions from stakeholders can be answered clearly and accurately.

More info: Victor de Lange