bgreen leaders eXchange: Greenwashing

To better understand the Green Claims Directive, we invited Stefanie Kuhnhen, Chief Strategy Officer/Managing Partner at Serviceplan Group and an expert in communications, to join us for a special eXchange to discuss its implications and what it means for companies and consumers

CIRCULAZE | May 7, 2024

In response to growing concerns over greenwashing and consumer mistrust, the Green Claims Directive aims to regulate advertising practices related to environmental claims. As Stefanie highlighted, with 37% of consumers seeking more transparency and over 230 green labels confusing the market, there’s a pressing need for clarity and authenticity.

After approval by the EU Parliament in summer 2024, the Green Claims Directive will be enforced by 2026. It builds upon existing laws in countries like Germany, emphasizing materiality, comprehensiveness, and verification of environmental claims. The directive applies to companies with more than 10 employees and revenue exceeding 2 million euros.

Greenwashing Defined: Greenwashing occurs when brands exaggerate or misrepresent their environmental credentials, often through vague or unsubstantiated claims. This practice undermines consumer trust and creates confusion in the marketplace.

Understanding the legal framework of the directive is crucial for both companies and advertising agencies. Early adoption not only ensures compliance but also provides opportunities for optimization and competitive advantage.

Stefanie shared examples of current market advertisements, some which will comply with the Green Claims Directive and others that need work. Brands like Nestle, Ritter Sport, and Farber-Castell demonstrate compliance through clear, substantiated claims and third-party certification.

However, brands like ARMEDANGELS with their slogan “Short on toxins. Big on touch,” will need to adjust their messaging to meet the directive’s requirements as there is no information, i.e. a QR code, to back it up. Creative messaging like Mercedes Benz’s “This is for you, world,” would suffice, as is there is no clear, or crisp green claim.

The Key Takeaways from our session:

  • Don’t Wait, Start Today: Early adoption and adaptation to the Green Claims Directive not only ensure compliance but also provide learning opportunities and competitive advantages.
  • Transparency is Key: Clear, substantiated claims backed by third-party certification build consumer trust and avoid accusations of greenwashing. QR codes on packaging to better explain claims are a great example here.
  • Stay Informed: Continuously monitor legal developments and industry best practices to ensure compliance and effective communication.
  • The Consumer has Power: The end consumer is also important in creating change, especially when it comes to industries like fashion. If the market is effective, consumers will buy sustainably.

Interested in joining events like the Greenwashing eXchange? Learn more about becoming a bgreen leader here.

About Stefanie Kuhnhen

As CSO and Partner, Stefanie is responsible for the strategic product of the German Serviceplan agencies, the only fully integrated German agency group and the leading independent, partner-managed, global agency network.

Her core expertise lies in brand, corporate and communication strategy. With over 25 years of practical experience, she has acquired extensive expertise in the development of international brands such as IKEA, Volkswagen, Burger King and EDEKA – with her visionary thinking, branding and communication strategies and holistic brand implementation, she has helped to develop these brands, in some cases for decades.