Many sustainability claims potentially deceptive

02.02.2021 — Together with other European national authorities, the Norwegian Consumer Authority has taken part in a coordinated screening of websites looking for cases of greenwashing.  The results of the screening indicate that false or deceptive environmental claims in online markets may be a major problem all over Europe.

Each year, the European Commission and national consumer authorities carry out a screening of websites (“sweep”) to identify breaches of EU consumer law in online markets. This time, the sweep focused on ‘greenwashing’, the practice by which companies claim they are doing more for the environment than they actually are.

Main findings:

  • In more than half of the cases, the trader did not provide sufficient information for consumers to judge the claim’s accuracy.
  • In 37% of cases, the claim included vague and general statements such as “conscious”, “eco-friendly”, “sustainable” which aimed to convey the unsubstantiated impression to consumers that a product had no negative impact on the environment.
  • Moreover, in 59% of cases the trader had not provided easily accessible evidence to support its claim.

All in all, in 42% of cases authorities had reason to believe that the claim may be false or deceptive and could therefore potentially amount to an unfair commercial practice.

Background

Sweeps are coordinated by the European Commission and carried out yearly by national enforcement authorities in the EU, gathered in the Consumer Protection Cooperation Network (CPC).

You can read more about this year’s sweep in this press release from the European Commission.

02.02.2021

Many sustainability claims potentially deceptive

Together with other European national authorities, the Norwegian Consumer Authority has taken part in a coordinated screening of websites looking for cases of greenwashing.  The results of the screening indicate that false or deceptive environmental claims in online markets may be a major problem all over Europe.