The EC launched its ‘Single Market for Green Products’ initiative on April 9 in a bid to simplify the range of green initiatives in the EU that, it said, had started to act as a barrier for the circulation of green products.
The EC said that for a food company to register its product and organisation as ‘green’ – there were “a confusing range of choices of methods and initiatives”, often different in each EU state.
“There are numerous voices from industry calling for a harmonisation of methods to assess the environmental performance of products in order to create a level playing field, reduce costs, and prevent free riding,” it said.
Complex for consumers too…
It added that not only was the current system complex for food manufacturers, but also for consumers.
“At present, consumers have very poor information on what is genuinely ‘green’. Without providing this information in a trusted way, purchasing decisions are distorted and many consumers end up not buying green products despite their declared intention to do so… The number of green claims is growing, even if they are becoming more superficial and vague in their use of terminology, further deteriorating consumer trust.”
Findings from a recent Eurobarometer found that 48% of European consumers were confused and did not trust environmental information on products; affecting readiness to make green purchases, the EC said.
Three-year testing period
The initiative includes two methods – the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and the Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF) – that will be used as a single definition of environmental performance for EU states.
These methods provide principles for communicating environmental performance in a transparent and clear way and supports international efforts towards more coordination in methodological development and data availability, the EC said.
The Commission has encouraged voluntary use by companies, private organisations and the financial community in Member States.
Industry welcomes initiative
Trade body FoodDrinkEurope (FDE) has welcomed the initiative and said it will boost sustainable business.
“We welcome the European Commission’s Single Market for Green Products communication and PEF methodology recommendation which we believe will provide important steps towards the creation of a robust and effective sustainability framework for Europe’s businesses,” said FDE president Jesús Serafín Pérez.
“The industry remains focussed on promoting continuous environmental improvement measures along the food supply chain, reliable and uniform assessment methodologies, and ensuring that communication to consumers and other stakeholders is relevant and, user-friendly and effective in guiding them towards making sustainable choices,” FDE said.
Full details of the initiative can be found HERE.