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GET RID OF GREENWASH – a FLAGSHIP CAMPAIGN? General Assembly Brussels, November 14, 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "GET RID OF GREENWASH – a FLAGSHIP CAMPAIGN? General Assembly Brussels, November 14, 2013."— Presentation transcript:

1 GET RID OF GREENWASH – a FLAGSHIP CAMPAIGN? General Assembly Brussels, November 14, 2013

2 Rational behind proposed flagship campaign  Green claims often used as a marketing tool in order to influence consumer decision to buy a product  “Green” products are often sold at a higher price  If green claims are misleading, consumer detriment is not only economical, but can de-motivate consumers to engage in sustainable consumption in the future  Numerous examples of misleading green claims in Europe

3 Low trust among consumers of environmental claims  Eurobarometer 367 (July 2013):  Only a bit more than half of EU citizens generally trust producers‘ claims about the environmental performance of their products  Study by Consumer Focus (2009):  58% of consumers think a lot of companies pretend to be green just to charge higher prices

4 Example 1 (appliances): „Very energy saving refrigerator“  The consumer center Hamburg (a vzbv member) took legal action against retailer Media Markt in 2010  Media Markt used the slogan “very energy saving” for a refrigerator/freezer which was of energy efficiency class “A”.  This had been considered to be misleading as 308 out of 543 appliances already belonged to class “A+” and almost 17% of all available appliances on the German market belonged even to energy efficiency class “A++”.  As the consumer center Hamburg won the case, the retailer was not allowed to use this advertisement anymore

5 Example 2 (appliances): Which? Test of small electrical appliances  Which? Performed own tests on small appliances  E.g. Bosch steam generator used more water and consumed more energy in its „eco mode“ that on „max steam“  No legal action taken

6 Example 3 (textiles):Lidl not allowed to use term „natural product“ for textiles made of lyocell  Lidl used to advertise textiles made of lyocell as a „natural product“  In order to produce lyocell, large amounts of chemicals and energy are necessary  Verbraucherzentrale Hamburg issued a notice of warning against Lidl  VZHH demanded the company to cease and desist from the advertising –> Lidl signed declaration  If Lidl fails to comply, VZHH might take case to court

7 Example 4 (toilet cleaners): Tesco naturally (UK) – test by which?  As a result of which? investigation, Tesco is removing claim „no phosphates“

8 Example 5 (cars): Opel advertisement „Insignia ecoFlex“: loads of fun of driving & low fuel consumption (2009)  VZBV admonished Opel as manufacturer advertised its model „Insignia ecoFlex“ with „climate friendly CO 2 emissions“  Opel agreed not to use this slogan in the future

9 No EU legislation harmonising environmental marketing  Green claims partly covered by specific legislation prohibiting the misleading use of the claims used (e.g. organic labels, energy labelling, etc.)  Outside those aspects covered by specific EU legislation, general provisions of the Directive on Unfair Commercial Practices are to be used when assessing environmental claims  UCPD does not include specific provisions on misleading environmental claims:  It is the general clauses that apply, meaning that the assessment of a misleading green claim must be done on a case-by-case basis  Full harmonization effect of UCPD does not allow MS to adopt more ambitious provisions, e.g. through general prohibitions on the use of certain terms (e.g. Eco-friendly)

10 Objectives of campaign: Consumers are not being ripped- off by misleading green claims (1) To stop the use of blatantly misleading green claims (concrete products/claims identified at a later stage); (2) To show possibilities for redress; (3) To make consumers aware how to recognize a misleading green claim; (4) To work with national authorities or businesses where relevant to further target misleading green claims; (5) To lobby for more ambitious guidelines under the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD) to effectively combat misleading green claims

11 Strategy of flagship campaign – EU level  Collecting examples of misleading green claims  Quantification of consumer harm in cases of misleading green claims;  Enforcement campaign: coordinated enforcement actions (injunctions, complaints to national authorities, negotiations with business etc.)  Assembling information on redress possibilities in each country;  Push for appropriate EU regulatory action (e.g. revision of Unfair Commercial Practices Directive)

12 Strategy of flagship campaign – Member State level  Preparation of evidence: provide consumer complaints, cases, potentially surveys to „build the case“  Participate in coordinated enforcement activities – taking injunction actions to courts or national enforcement activities  Inform BEUC secretariat about concrete possibilities for consumers to get redress in those cases  Help develop communication material  Do media work at national level  Participate in awareness building strategy and activities how to recognize misleading green claims

13 Annex

14 What is a „misleading green claim“? (p. 37 UCPD Guidance Document)  The expressions "environmental claims" or "green claims" refer to the practice of suggesting or otherwise creating the impression that a product or a service, is environmentally friendly or is less damaging to the environment than competing goods or services.  When such claims are not true or cannot be verified this practice can be described as 'greenwashing'.

15 Example 6 (cars): Lexus ad banned in the UK (2007)  Ad for Lexus RX 400h car (192 g CO2/km): „High performance. Low emissions. Zero guilt.“  Advertising Standards Authority decided that even though the car‘s CO2 emissions were low compared to similar cars, absolute emissions are still very high and this would give a misleading impression that this car is environmentally friendly

16 Example of „possible“ misleading ads (no legal action taken) from 2012  New Renault Espace ad (2012) – „Nature will reward you. Taxes as well“  Similar case to Lexus example in the UK from 2007?  Even though the car‘s CO2 emissions are „relatively“ low compared to similar cars, absolute emissions are still high and this give a misleading impression that this car is environmentally friendly  Average emissions of all cars in EU in 2012: 132 g CO2/km  Average emissions target for all cars in the EU in 2020: 95 g CO2/km

17 – Thank you

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