Help for green shoppers

5EU-wide standards for environmental claims would increase trust in the growing market for green products and allow shoppers to make informed choices.

A growing number of shoppers would like to buy environmentally friendly products but find it difficult to make informed choices.

This is because EU countries use a wide variety of methods to measure the green credentials of products and companies – making comparison hard. What’s more, the terms used on labels are often vague and confusing.

The result? Around 48% of Europeans say they do not trust the environmental claims made by companies.

To support the market for green products, the Commission is proposingcommon EU standards. One standard measures the environmental impact of specific products. Another measures the environmental performance of an organisation or company.

Both are based on existing, tested methods. The Commission is calling on EU governments, companies and organisations to begin using the voluntary standards now.

The Commission is also providing guidance on labelling, to allow people to shop with confidence. Environmental claims should be transparent (include information on the assessment procedure used, source, criteria), relevant, reliable, complete, comparable and clear.

Common standards are likely to encourage more firms to green their products, by reducing red tape and the cost of meeting different standards across the EU. Companies would also benefit by being able to compete fairly using the same standards.

Next steps

In parallel, the Commission plans to develop product- and sector-specific rules for assessing environmental impact. These rules will be developed over 3 years with the participation of organisations and companies.

The Commission will also contribute to global efforts to develop better international standards for measuring and communicating environmental impact.

‘Green products’ are those that result in as little environmental damage as possible during production, distribution and use, to the end of their lifecycle (including reuse, recycling and recovery) compared to similar products of the same category.

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