Green Claims Directive: Re-Establishing Trust In Sustainability Communication

This week, we’re sharing insights from our Public Relations Global Network Partner, , on the EU’s new Green Claims Directive. This legislation is designed to tackle corporate greenwashing by implementing strict regulations on sustainability claims in order to restore consumer confidence and promote fair competition.

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With the passing of the Green Claims Directive, the EU now picks up the gauntlet against corporate greenwashing. By laying down stringent rules for how companies may deploy claims about their sustainability, the intention is to eliminate the practices of greenwashing that for so long have been misleading consumers into making unsustainable choices.

While legislation may be a blunt instrument of change, the new directive carries the potential to level the playing field for all companies wishing to use sustainability to market themselves and their products on the European market. By creating accountability, it also helps combat the growing distrust for sustainability communication in making ‘green’ claims into a reliable instrument by which consumers may more easily navigate busy stores.

The impetus to substantiate claims is, however, nothing new in itself, but rather a reminder of what lies at the core of trust-building communication. Strategic communication should always be about highlighting – and backing-up – the value of something. Consequently, the Green Claims Directive should not be seen as a muzzle on sustainability communication, which ultimately risks intimidating honest companies into ‘greenhushing.’ Instead, it is about addressing the behaviour of less scrupulous actors, who by capitalising on the vagueness within the area have – perhaps inadvertently – made it difficult for conscientious companies to share and benefit from their sustainability efforts.

As we discussed on this week’s episode of the PRGN Presents podcast series, there are some key items to consider: 

  • The Green Claims Directive establishes rules for how companies may use claims about sustainability in their communication and marketing.
  • All environmental claims need to be specific and supported by independent, peer-reviewed, widely recognised, and verifiable scientific evidence.
  • The new rules seek to create fair competition and may ultimately raise trust for corporate sustainability communication.
  • Take inventory of all claims being made, either by the corporation itself, the leadership, or by individual employees.
  • Investigate the actual proof behind these claims and set up your own ‘claims court’ to judge whether they actually hold up to scrutiny. Be prepared to kill your darlings!
  • Develop a coherent, unitary, and substantiated message about sustainability and make sure it is widely understood within the entire organisation. Train spokespersons on delivering the message and ensure its consistent use across all platforms, e.g. website, corporate presentations, equity story, sustainability report and employer branding site.

To learn more about the Green Claims Directive, listen in on this week’s episode of PRGN Presents.

Landis Communications Inc. is an award-winning full-service agency for environmental and sustainability public relations. Sign up for our newsletter below to stay up to date on the latest industry news from the experts.