Sustainability claims: Get it right
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Sustainability claims: Get it right

  • 12 January 2023

Better for the planet! A more sustainable choice! If you develop or market a sustainable food product, as an entrepreneur you will naturally want to mention this on the packaging and in advertising. However, there are more and more rules attached to this. 

Entrepreneurs developing or marketing sustainable food products should be aware of the growing number of regulations. Sustainability can cover a wide range of topics, from environmental considerations to ethical issues such as animal welfare and working conditions. Therefore, entrepreneurs should indicate in their declarations the extent to which their product is sustainable and support their claims with sound evidence.

New Environmental and Sustainability Advertising Code

Non-compliance with sustainability rules in the Netherlands can lead to fines and sanctions from the Consumer & Market Authority (ACM) and the Advertising Code Committee (RCC). The ACM is currently focusing on sustainability claims and has recently intervened in the clothing sector. The RCC, set up by advertising industry stakeholders, handles complaints from consumers and businesses and while it cannot impose fines, it can recommend the cessation of advertising.

"Make sure the substantiation for your claim is 100% in order before you communicate it"

An updated version of the Environmental and Sustainability Advertising Code is expected to come into force from early 2023. The new rules for sustainability claims are more concrete and specific; for example, the term 'climate neutral' now carries an extreme burden of proof and is almost impossible to adequately substantiate.

Heavy burden of proof

Entrepreneurs must ensure that the substantiation of their claim is 100% in order before communicating it. If a claim is made in comparison to a competitor, a high burden of proof applies. Claims about a product's carbon footprint must be legally true against every possible competitor a consumer can think of. Entrepreneurs must also explain their claims on packaging and avoid vague or misleading statements.

Read the whole article with practical examples on ABNAMRO

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