SustainabilityWebsite screening reveals greenwashing practices of companies

Together with the national consumer protection authorities, the European Commission published the results of its website screening ('sweep') to identify potential violations of EU consumer law in online markets today. The results show that the majority of companies provide inadequate and hard to verify consumer information regarding the sustainability of their products on their websites.

Once a year, the European Commission coordinates a so-called 'sweep', during which national consumer protection authorities in the EU simultaneously screen various websites in different countries. With this year's focus on greenwashing practices, mainly websites of companies that advertise environmentally friendly products for clothing, cosmetics and household appliances were analyzed.

These are further results:

  • The Commission and consumer authorities screened a total of 344 dubious environmental claims on selected corporate websites.

  • In 59 percent of the cases, companies did not provide any easily accessible or verifiable evidence for consumers of their sustainability claims.

  • In 42 percent of the cases, the product claims were exaggerated, incorrect or misleading and could potentially be considered as unfair business practices within EU regulations.

  • In 37 percent of the cases, only vague and broad information was provided including buzz words such as 'conscious', 'environmentally friendly' and 'sustainable', with which consumers were made to believe that a product did not have any adverse effects in the environment.

Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice, said: "More and more people want to live a green life, and I applaud companies that strive to produce eco-friendly products or services. However, there are also exist unscrupulous businesses, which delude consumers with vague, false or exaggerated claims. The Commission is fully committed to empowering consumers in the green transition and fighting greenwashing. This is precisely one of the main priorities of the New Consumer Agenda adopted last autumn."

Source: EC

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