Meat & Livestock News

EU’s Tightened Greenwashing Rules: A Close Watch by New Zealand’s Export Sector

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The European Union’s recent initiative to rigorously regulate green claims by manufacturers is drawing keen attention from New Zealand’s export community, especially those in the meat industry.

This move, integral to the EU’s strategy for reinforcing its circular economy and the Green Deal, primarily aims at safeguarding consumer interests rather than imposing new trade obligations.

Scope and Impact of the EU Green Directive

Central to this development is the EU’s Green Directive, which extends its purview to all products, including food and beverages, sold within the EU that make environmental claims.

This directive necessitates that claims, such as carbon neutrality, be firmly backed by empirical evidence, ensuring their authenticity.

Combatting Greenwashing and Consumer Distrust

The EU’s initiative stems from a growing concern over the increasing number of ambiguous and potentially misleading environmental claims and labels, which have been sowing confusion among European consumers. This situation has led to a decline in consumer trust and raised allegations of greenwashing. Notably, EU survey data reveals that more than half of the green claims are either vague or unsupported by substantial evidence.

Strengthening Business Ethics and Environmental Commitment

The EU’s stringent regulations are designed to bolster the competitiveness of businesses earnestly working towards enhancing their products’ environmental sustainability. With approximately 230 sustainability labels and 100 green energy labels in the EU, the new directive aims to standardise green claims, making them more reliable, comparable, and verifiable. This approach is expected to contribute significantly to the development of a sustainable, circular European economy.

Verification Protocols and Trader Implications

Under these new regulations, companies will be obligated to substantiate their environmental claims, which will then undergo verification by independent, accredited bodies to ensure transparency and reliability.

Sirma Karapeeva, Chief Executive of the Meat Industry Association (MIA), acknowledges that while these rules will influence traders in the EU market, they will not exclude them. She stresses the necessity for these regulations to be grounded in sound science and cautions against their potential misuse as protectionist barriers.

MIA’s Perspective and Regulatory Watch

The MIA is particularly vigilant about the broader implications of these regulations, especially policies like those addressing deforestation, which Karapeeva views as potentially restrictive trade barriers.

The Association is closely monitoring the enactment of these regulations to safeguard against undue operational burdens. The current proposal indicates that environmental claims will be permissible in commercial settings only if they are thoroughly substantiated and verified in advance.

Legislative Process and Compliance Timeline

The European Parliament is in the process of considering the legislation necessary to enact this directive, with the implementation regulations still in the drafting phase. The legislation is slated for review by the European Parliament towards the end of November.

Once passed, EU member states will have a two-year period to align with these new regulations.

In essence, the EU’s stringent greenwashing regulations represent a significant stride towards ensuring market integrity and consumer trust. This development is of particular interest to New Zealand exporters, who view it as a pivotal factor in maintaining transparent and sustainable trade practices within the European market.