The European Commission has opened a consultation on a potential legislative proposal on substantiating green claims made when advertising and marketing products. The proposals are intended to implement one aspect of the European Green Deal which states, among other things, that “Companies making ‘green claims’ should substantiate these against a standard methodology to assess their impact on the environment”.

This consultation contains a section targeting (a) the opinion of the general public, and (b) more relevant stakeholders – including businesses and business associations, public administrators, standardisation bodies, method, label and initiative owners, academia, investors and the financial sector, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The purpose of the consultation is to tackle two issues:

  • The reliability and scope of labels/initiatives presently available to demonstrate the environmental performance of products and companies;
  • ‘Greenwashing’ – the false impression of the environmental impact or benefits of specific products and companies, which misleads market actors and reduces the incentive to find sustainable alternatives for products and activities.

With consumers more focused on the impact of products than ever before, the Commission is bringing the regulation of these claims into sharp focus. There are a large number of different initiatives and standards which all claim to demonstrate the environmental credentials of a product but the large number (over 200) of environmental labels currently used across the EU limits their usefulness to the consumer.

The EU has taken steps to tackle this through the European Green Deal and the 2020 Circular Economy action plan, both of which recommended that companies substantiate green/environmental claims against a standard methodology to assess their impact on the environment.

In 2013 the Commission adopted a Recommendation establishing the Product and Organisational Environmental Footprint methods. These methods are voluntary; they measure the environmental performance of a product or organisation throughout the value chain from the extraction of raw materials to the end of life, using 16 environmental impact categories.


The Commission consulted on An Inception Impact Assessment Roadmap on Green Claims on earlier this summer until 31 August 2020 and identified three potential proposals:

  1. Updating the previous 2013 Recommendation based on the outcome of the 2013-2018 pilot phase.
  2. Establishing a voluntary EU legal framework enabling companies to make green claims in accordance with the Environmental Footprint methods, as a complement to existing methods (developed by private or public entities, at national or international level).
  3. Establish an EU legal framework requiring companies making claims related to the impacts covered by the Environmental Footprint method to substantiate them via that method.

The EU is now calling on interested parties to participate in an online questionnaire to gather opinion for a potential legislative proposal that will harmonise laws on substantiating environmental claims. For more information on the steps the EU has taken or to participate in the consultation, please click here. —

The deadline to submit responses for this consultation is 3 December 2020 (midnight Brussels time).