The European Commission and national consumer authorities have released the results of a screening of websites (“sweep”) - an exercise carried out each year to identify possible breaches of EU consumer law in online markets.

This year, for the first time ever, the sweep focused on ‘greenwashing’, the practice by which companies claim they are doing more for the environment than they actually are. The “sweep” analysed green online claims from various business sectors such as garments, cosmetics and household equipment.

National consumer protection authorities had reason to believe that in 42% of cases the claims were exaggerated, false or deceptive and could potentially qualify as unfair commercial practices under EU rules. ‘Greenwashing’ has increased as consumers increasingly seek to buy environmentally sound products.

Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice, said: “More and more people want to live a green life, and I applaud companies that strive to produce eco-friendly products or services. However, there are also unscrupulous traders out there, who pull the wool over consumers’ eyes with vague, false or exaggerated claims. The Commission is fully committed to empowering consumers in the green transition and fighting greenwashing. This is precisely one of the main priorities of the New Consumer Agenda adopted last autumn.”

The full press release is available here.