Consumer Market Study on environmental claims for non-food products
Client: Executive Agency for Health and Safety
The Executive Agency for Health and Consumers, acting on behalf of the European Commission, commissioned a Consumer Market Study on environmental claims for non-food products in 2013 which aimed to provide information on the current state of play on the presence of green claims and the different types of claims made in the Single Market for non-food products (goods and services) and for marketing strategies.
As a key member of the consortium, Milieu Ltd was in charge of the analysis of environmental claims compliance with the EU legal framework and aimed to determine whether consumers were provided with clear, accurate and reliable information in relation to environmental claims in non-food products. The Tasks included:
1. an analysis of the existing general and sectorial guidelines on environmental claims developed in all EU Member States, Iceland, Norway and by the US Federal Trade Commission and the Consolidated International Chamber of Commerce Code of Advertising and Marketing Communication Practice. The national guidelines were evaluated against the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive 2005/29/EC (UCPD) and its 2009 Guidance document;
2. an assessment of the level of compliance of a selection of green claims with EU legal requirements under the UCPD 2005/29/EC and its 2009 Guidance document regulating misleading advertising and other unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices harming consumers’ economic interests. It also covered claims in the form of labels which were analysed in relation to the standards set by the EU best-practice guidelines for voluntary certification schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs;
3. an analysis of the enforcement and self-regulatory instruments available at the national level in key countries such as France, Poland, Spain and the UK;
4. a proposal for policy recommendations for future EU policy and legal initiatives that ensure certainty of the legal framework in this field.
Overall, the assessment pointed to a high level of misleading practices and lack of compliance with the criteria derived from the UCPD and its Guidance document, including the use of vague terms or lack of information provided to substantiate the claims.
It called for specific measures at the EU level to reverse the trend of European consumers making uninformed choices and thus jeopardising the achievement of ‘green growth’ in the EU.