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Environmental Claims Must Have Evidence: EU Will Ban ‘Greenwashing’ Practices

Environmental Claims Must Have Evidence: EU Will Ban ‘Greenwashing’ Practices

The European Parliament and the Council have just reached a provisional agreement on new rules banning misleading advertising and providing consumers with information about products that is better than its inherent value.

According to a press release issued by the European Parliament, general environmental claims and misleading marketing tactics will be banned to move Europe towards a circular economy, helping people. wisely choose sustainable consumer products.

The agreement updates trade practices currently banned by the EU and adds a number of problematic marketing practices related to “greenwashing” and the short shelf life of goods.

Greenwashing  is when a company or organization makes false or misleading claims about the environmental benefits of its products or services.

Early  obsolescence is when manufacturers intentionally design products with short lifespans so that consumers have to buy new products more often.


– General environmental claims , such as “eco-friendly”, “natural”, “biodegradable”, “climate neutral” or “eco” without evidence of recognized environmental performance excellence in relation to the claim.

– Commercial information about goods with durability-limiting features , if there is information about this feature and its impact on durability.

– Claims based on emissions offsets  that the product has a neutral, reduced or positive impact on the environment.

– Sustainability labels  are not based on approved certification schemes or established by public authorities.

– Durability claims about time or intensity of use  under normal conditions, if not proven.

– Remind consumers to replace consumables , such as printer cartridges, sooner than absolutely necessary.

– Introducing software updates  is necessary even if they only enhance functional features.

– Representing goods as repairable  when in fact they are not.

In addition, members of the European Parliament asserted that the  provision of warranty information needs to be clearer , as many people do not know that all goods are guaranteed for at least 2 years in the EU. The committee was also tasked with designing new labels for manufacturers who wanted to highlight the quality of their goods by extending free warranties.

European Parliament Rapporteur Biljana Borzan (S&D, HR) said: “We have reached a great deal for consumers. 60% of European consumers do not even know that all products have a legal warranty.

Additionally, the new warranty label will clearly show which products have a longer shelf life, so it will be easier to buy more durable products. We should not advertise fast-moving consumer products. Additionally,  we are dealing with the chaos of environmental claims, which will now have to be substantiated, and claims based on offsetting emissions will be prohibited .”

To become law, the interim agreement will have to receive final assent from both the European Parliament and the Council. The vote by members of Parliament is expected to take place this coming November. Once the directive takes effect, European Union (EU) member states will have 24 months to incorporate the new regulations into their laws.

European consumers get lost in the “matrix” of green claims

Recommendations for Vietnamese businesses exporting goods to Europe

Author photo

Mr. Nguyen Dinh Quyen
Executive Director – Consultant on ESG Reporting Framework, LCA, EDP, Neutral Roadmap and Netzero carbon

Sharing his views on this temporary EU regulatory agreement, Mr. Nguyen Dinh Quyen, Managing Director – Consulting Expert on ESG Reporting Framework, LCA, EDP, Neutral Roadmap and Netzero carbon, said that the Vietnamese businesses that claim to  offset greenhouse gas emissions and move toward  “carbon neutrality” by planting trees  should be cautious.

“Using simple calculations to figure out how much carbon is sequestered by an individual tree over its life cycle, and then claiming that that is an offset for the emissions created,” Mr. Quyen said. is not enough to be called “neutral”.

In addition to the lack of verification of recognized calculation methods, trees can take many years before they begin to absorb carbon in significant quantities, and they do not absorb carbon at a linear rate throughout their lives. of them.

Furthermore, generating emissions now and claiming that an equivalent amount of uptake by plants will take place – often many years in the future – has no neutralizing effect and would be considered an action. “greenwashing”.

According to Mr. Nguyen Dinh Quyen, many organizations currently advertise simple tree planting to balance emissions. This should not be considered “neutral” (unless the project has been awarded carbon credits under a reputable carbon standard) and no carbon offsetting or Net Zero claims can be made.

Reforestation projects can be verified against reputable carbon standards such as the Woodland Carbon Code – but this is a difficult process and takes years. For example, in the case of the Woodland Carbon Code, today’s crops are assigned “Pending Issuance Units” (PIUs) and would not be eligible for use as verified offsets. Being converted into a “Carbon Woodland Unit” (WCU) takes at least 5-10 years” (under favorable plant growing conditions without dying during that time).

Therefore, Mr. Quyen recommended that businesses exporting products to the European market that must apply the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) from October 1, 2023 should consider carefully to “avoid having to do carbon neutral again – carbon neutral from the beginning”.

According to experts from the Technical Assistance Project on Impact Assessment of the European Union’s CBAM Mechanism, although European importers are responsible for reporting and paying CBAM fees, But in order to have reporting information, they will require Vietnamese manufacturers to have information about the amount of product, the amount of emissions in the product, the amount of emissions to get the raw materials to make that product, and the costs paid for the product. Domestic carbon pricing…

Currently, Vietnam is the 11th largest partner in terms of imported goods to the EU. Although currently the majority of goods exported from Vietnam do not fall into these groups, the scope is likely to expand and include more products in the future.

Therefore, manufacturing enterprises in high-risk industries such as steel, aluminum, cement, fertilizer… exporting to the EU market are directly affected and regulated by the CBAM mechanism, so Have a plan to minimize the amount of carbon in the production process so as not to exceed the EU standard threshold.

In addition, experts from the Technical Assistance Project on Impact Assessment of the CBAM Mechanism also said that large economies such as the US, UK, Canada, Japan… may also apply CBAM.

In the immediate future, businesses need to develop emission reports and must well control emissions throughout the entire production chain, reducing emissions in each stage of their production.

The process by which businesses calculate their carbon emissions is called carbon accounting and there are strict standards in place, such as the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, that ensure this is done comprehensively and substantively. These standards ensure that green claims (such as carbon neutral or netzero claims) made by businesses are transparent and have a significant impact.

Carbon neutrality is a state in which the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions emitted by an organization, activity or product is equal to the amount of CO2 removed from the atmosphere.

There are two main ways to achieve carbon neutrality, which are  reducing emissions  through measures such as using renewable energy, energy efficiency and reducing dependence on fossil fuels, and  offsetting emissions. emissions  through projects such as reforestation, investing in renewable energy or purchasing carbon credits.

Source: Mekong Asean

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