by Hailey McQuaid
ESG Project Manager

In 2026, the European Union (EU) will begin enforcing a new agreement that would ban misleading advertisements and provide consumers with better product information to curb greenwashing and the early obsolescence of goods. Greenwashing is when a company spends more time and money promoting itself to be “environmentally friendly” than on actually minimizing its environmental impact.

So What Will This Agreement Mean?
Generic environmental claims such as “environmentally friendly,” “natural,” “biodegradable,” “climate neutral,” or “eco” will be banned unless the company can provide evidence of recognized “excellent environmental performance relevant to the claim,” (European Parliament, 2023). This means the only “green” labels a company can use must come from an approved sustainability program or be established by a public authority.

In addition, a product will not be allowed to be labeled as “carbon neutral” if it is neutral due to carbon offsets. Some of you may be wondering why a company cannot claim their product is “carbon neutral” if they are purchasing carbon offsets. Well, that leads to a larger conversation we will discuss in a future blog article. To boil it down though, carbon offsets have been under scrutiny because of their lack of credibility. For example, there have been issues with companies buying carbon offsets and then that money goes towards protecting a forest that is already legally protected, resulting in no additional carbon being captured. Another example is the ethical debate of a company deforesting at Location A, then planting trees at Location B thousands of miles away. Is that company really offsetting that carbon footprint by doing this?

This EU agreement also targets claims about durability. A company will no longer be able to make claims about a product’s durability or repairability unless it has been proven. In addition, a company will not be able to prompt a consumer to replace a good earlier than strictly necessary or present software updates as necessary when they are purely to enhance functionality features.

While many companies may be sweating this, I am personally happy to see this type of regulation be mandated. I believe agreements like this will empower consumers to make better informed decisions. Hopefully, regulations like this will help consumers feel more confident when they choose to purchase an alternative because it is better for the environment and encourage companies to create real, eco-friendly products. I am looking forward to seeing regulations such as the EU agreement come to the United States in the near future.

How We Can Help
The EI Group, Inc. (EI) provides a comprehensive array of services for the development and execution of new and existing sustainability programs tailored to your business. We understand the ever-changing environment and stress to innovate within which our clients operate to meet ambitious sustainability goals and redesign the standard of business. Whether you are at the beginning of your sustainability journey or looking for a helping hand in existing sustainability initiatives, EI’s team of experienced professionals are ready to partner with you. Contact Hailey McQuaid, ESG Project Manager with EI, at (704) 264-4189 or [email protected].