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The European Union curbs greenwashing: new Directive (EU) 2024/825 fights unfair practices on green claims.

The European Union curbs greenwashing: new Directive (EU) 2024/825 fights unfair practices on green claims.

On March 6, 2024, the European Parliament and the Council adopted the Directive (EU) 2024/825 on empowering consumers for the green transition by improving protection against unfair practices and information.

The purpose of the Directive is to promote green transactions and the proper functioning of the internal market by ensuring that companies provide consumers with clear, relevant, and reliable information from a sustainability perspective.

To achieve this, the Directive imposes several bans and transparency requirements on claims and sustainability. Among these, the most interesting new provisions pertain to intellectual property and unfair competition, tackling, in particular, sustainability labels, certification marks and green claims.

New rules for sustainability labels and certification marks

First, the new Directive has intervened on sustainability labels which attribute to products specific properties along environmental, social, and governance (ESG) compliance. The Directive states that some certification marks can also operate as sustainability labels if they promote a product, process or business with reference, for example, to its environmental or social characteristics or both.

Specifically, the Directive provides that in order to exhibit such sustainability labels it will be necessary to use a trademark established by public authorities (e.g., in Italy, the ‘Made Green in Italy’ trademark), or to rely on a certification scheme based on a standard with transparent, fair and non-discriminatory conditions, which is the result of consultation with relevant experts and stakeholders.

Verification of compliance with such a standard should be carried out by a competent third party, independent from both the scheme owner and for the trader claiming the certification.

Therefore, the display of a sustainability label that is not established by public authorities or is not based on a certification scheme will be added to the list of unfair competition practices.

Ban on sweeping generic green claims

The Directive also prohibits generic claims when recognised excellent environmental performance cannot be demonstrated.

This will only be possible if the environmental performance complies with the Ecolabel Regulation – a national or regional eco-labelling scheme, officially recognised in the Member States – or the best environmental performance under other EU provisions.

It should be noted that environmental claims are not considered generic whenever the specification of the environmental claim is provided in clear and prominent terms on the same medium.

Moreover, generic terms such as ‘conscious’, ‘sustainable’ or ‘responsible’ should also be avoided if they are based solely on excellent environmental performance, since such claims imply other characteristics in addition to environmental ones, such as social characteristics of the products.

Compliance with the Directive

The Directive will have to be implemented at national level by March 27, 2026. This European legislation is a significant step toward greater transparency and accountability in business practices, with the aim of creating a more sustainable and conscious economy.

However, it should be noted that some of the practices regulated by the new Directive are already contained in the general rules of the Italian Consumer Code, providing, for example, for the application of the same financial penalties.

This smart and coherent intervention in line with the current provisions therefore appears to be consistent with existing legislation and represents yet another European Union’s progress in the fight against greenwashing.

This newsletter is for the sole purpose of providing updates and general information and is not intended as legal advice on any particular or specific issue.
For clarifications or information, please contact the authors or your reference professional in the Intellectual Property area at our Firm.

Niccolò Ferretti, Partner
T.: +39 026575181

Emanuela Gaia Zapparoli, Counsel
T.: +39 026575181


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