Avoid Greenwashing – Green Claims Check

Greenwashing is mostly associated with fraud or gaining a competitive advantage by deceiving consumers. However, an unintentionally wrong handling of Green Claims results in the same consequences.

Greenwashing can happen without you noticing

We make sure that you do not unintentionally practice Greenwashing to avoid legal and reputational damage.

Definition: What is greenwashing?

Greenwashing is the process by which companies deliver information that is not true or is presented in a confusing or misleading way to give an inaccurate impression of a product or enterprise being environmentally sound. In many cases, Greenwashing refers to a lack of social responsibility or unethical behavior, when creating a positive image for the company is prioritized over consumer protection. However, some companies actually pursue honest communication and corporate responsibility, not knowing that they practice Greenwashing, and ESG measures are truly implemented. This example shows what greenwashing vs green marketing is: Green marketing means highlighting outstanding environmental performance and dedication to sustainable business processes, whereas Greenwashing is a deceitful or unproven message to the consumer.

Greenwashing examples

How can you detect Greenwashing? Products, services or companies are often declared as, “environmentally friendly” or “green” – without any recognized labels or proof. These claims might be misleading, unclear, or simply false. A common practice is to declare a company as “climate neutral”, prioritizing the purchase of CO2 emission certificates over a serious reduction of emissions. In other cases, products are advertised as “emission-free” or “reduced by X %”, while not all steps in the production chain have been considered or there is no scientific calculation providing a basis at all. In order to be able to make such Green Claims, a comprehensive analysis of the entire value chain and a precise definition of terms is necessary. 
More information about carbon footprint calculation or life cycle assessment can be found here.

Greenwashing risks and consequences

EU Green Claim Directive

In 2020, the European Commission found that 53 % of examined environmental claims in the EU were vague, misleading or unfounded, and 40 % were unsubstantiated. This widespread use of greenwashing and the necessity to empower consumers to make informed and environment-friendly choices have triggered the EU to develop two main Greenwashing regulations. The directive on unfair commercial practices will be amended to tackle the use of eco-labels or generic environmental claims where environmental excellence cannot be demonstrated (such as “eco-friendly”, “recyclable”). Second, the proposal for a Directive on Green Claims is aimed at complementing this act by proposing more specific rules on environmental claims (on their substantiation, communication and verification). Both proposals contain harsh consequences for non-compliance.

Other consequences

Moreover, not only politics is taking action, but also consumers, journalists and consumer associations are becoming increasingly aware of Greenwashing and sustainability and are skeptical when facing Greenwashing ads. They are sensitized to common Greenwashing terms and learn how to differentiate between honest communication and transparency versus Greenwashing claims.

Therefore, Greenwashing can lead to financial as well as reputational damage, in particular:

Greenwashing fines


Loss of consumer's trust

Loss of investors

How can companies avoid greenwashing?

The trap: Greenhushing

As awareness about sustainability increases, the negative reactions and consequences become more severe if companies do not communicate their sustainability efforts correctly. Small mistakes can implicate severe consequences and out of fear of Greenwashing, Greenhushing is the result (Greenhushing meaning: keeping silent about sustainability performance). However, this is not the solution either!

We support you in communicating your environmental performance correctly, taking current and future legal requirements into account. With our Green Claims check, you don’t need to worry about problems with Greenwashing.

Our services to prevent Greenwashing

Don’t hide your product’s good performance and sustainability efforts 

out of fear of Greenwashing!


Frequently asked questions about Greenwashing

Greenwashing, explained very briefly, means a deceitful communication about sustainability performance of a company or a product. It includes marketing activities which manipulate environmentally conscious consumers by using exaggerated or wrong claims about the environmental benefits of a product or service for example.

A Green Claim can be any message in the context of a commercial communication which states or implies that a product has a positive or zero impact on the environment, is less damaging to the environment than other products, or has improved its impact over time. Messages can be provided in the form of text, pictorial, graphic or symbolic representations. Labels, the names of a brand, company or product can also constitute a message. Claims do not always have to be about specific products but can be made about product categories, brands or companies, as well.

There are several steps a company can undertake to guarantee that their Green Claims are correct and legal. For example, internal processes for approving environmental communication are important. An internal (or external) critical review of the claims based on the legal requirements is essential. Claims should only be made based on first-hand and scientifically robust data and external evaluation. In order to avoid Greenwashing, some companies choose Greenhushing, which means that they don’t communicate their sustainability efforts at all. This is not the solution either.

Vague indicators, unclear terms, missing explanations or improper comparisons should be avoided. The presentation of self-evident facts or legal minimum requirements as special achievements also constitutes Greenwashing. More sophisticated claims highlight environmental measures, distracting from other environmentally harmful business operations of the company.  Increasingly, consumers are wary of environmental claims without supporting facts.

The Green Claims Directive is a proposal published by the European Commission on the 22nd of March 2023 to protect consumers from Greenwashing practices. Companies will be required to substantiate their statements by complying with several criteria. Verification by a third party will be mandatory. Furthermore, the directive will include requirements regarding the communication to consumers and rules regarding the use of labels.

Greenhushing can be considered as the opposite of Greenwashing. The term is used when companies keep silent about efforts referring to sustainability. Even if products or services could be claimed as environmentally friendly or effective measures have been implemented, it is not communicated to the consumer.

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