EU Bans Greenwashing
The European Union (EU) is taking a strong stance against misleading environmental claims that rely on carbon offsetting or lack specific scientific evidence. The EU parliament voted in January 2024¹²³⁴ to outlaw the use of terms such as “climate neutral”, “biodegradable”, or “eco” without proof, and to ban carbon offsetting schemes as a way to substantiate these claims. The EU argues that these claims are deceptive and do not reflect the true impact of products and services on the environment. The new directive will take effect by 2026 and will only allow sustainability labels that use approved certification schemes.
UK companies that operate in the EU market will have to comply with these new rules and ensure that their environmental claims are transparent and verifiable. UK companies that want to stay ahead of the curve and gain a competitive edge should also consider adopting similar standards for their domestic market, as consumers are increasingly demanding more accountability and action from businesses on climate change. UK companies can also benefit from joining the UN’s Race to Zero campaign, which is a global initiative to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest. As of November 2021, 60 of the UK’s FTSE 100 companies had signed up to this campaign, showing their commitment and leadership on tackling the climate emergency⁵⁶.
The UK government has made almost £5 billion of funding available to help UK businesses become greener as part of the government’s commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Funding opportunities will be awarded to businesses investing in green technologies to increase energy efficiency or reduce carbon emissions. The money is being released in phases, each with specific goals covering different industrial sectors and processes.(14)
The best business responses to the climate crisis are those that not only reduce their carbon footprint, but also create value and opportunities for innovation, growth, and social impact. Some of the actions that businesses can take to fight climate change are⁷⁸⁹ (10):
- Switching to renewable energy sources and improving energy efficiency
- Investing in low-carbon technologies and solutions
- Measuring and reporting their greenhouse gas emissions and setting science-based targets
- Engaging with their stakeholders and customers on climate issues and raising awareness
- Collaborating with other businesses, governments, and civil society to scale up climate action and advocacy
- Supporting the transition to a circular economy and reducing waste and pollution
- Enhancing their resilience and adaptation to climate risks and impacts
- Aligning their business strategy and governance with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement
Around 10% of the energy used in the typical office is consumed by printers and copiers. National business technology supplier, XBM Limited, works with Epson to provide a range of Heat-Free print solutions that reduce the energy consumed by printers and copiers by up to 83%, reducing both a business’s utility costs and its carbon footprint. Unlike laser printers, Epson’s Heat-Free business inkjet technology provides high quality prints without the need for a fuser, and so doesn’t need to heat up, eliminating the 30 seconds usually wasted while you are waiting for the device to heat up.
The devices use high-yield ink packs, reducing the number of changes required and packaging by up to 96%. With Epson’s floor-standing AM-C multifunction printers having fewer replaceable components and the smallest form-factor in their class, they also use fewer natural resources than competitor’s devices. These, and the corporation’s procurement, environmental, and labour policies, have led EcoVadis to award them the coveted Platinum status for three years in a row, placing them in the top 1% of print companies worldwide.
Crucially, Epson submitted their calculations and Optimisation Report to DataMaster for independent validation and worked with experts at Cambridge University to assess the impact of print technology on climate change, ensuring that the data provided will comply with the new regulations.
For XBM, 70% of all the new print devices they sold in 2023 were Epson Heat-Free devices, with companies taking advantage of the offer of a free sustainability and optimisation report, comparing a company’s existing print fleet to the most sustainable solution currently available. This is marking a turning point for UK businesses who can now take advantage of technology to reduce their carbon footprint rather than rely on what the EU sees as dubious claims seen at best as green-washing.
By taking the actions listed above, including switching to more sustainable technology, businesses can not only contribute to solving the climate crisis, but also enhance their reputation, brand loyalty, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, innovation, and profitability. Doing well by doing good is the smart and responsible way for businesses to operate in the 21st century.
Read more about Epson’s Heat-Free Business Inkjet Print Technology and why so many businesses are adopting it:
Title: EU Bans Greenwashing
References:(1) EU bans ‘misleading’ environmental claims that rely on offsetting. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2024/jan/17/eu-bans-misleading-environmental-claims-that-rely-on-offsetting.
(2) EU Parliament votes to clamp down on carbon neutral claims, early …. https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy-environment/news/eu-parliament-votes-to-clamp-down-carbon-neutral-claims-early-obsolescence/.
(3) Carbon Market Watch welcomes EU ban on “carbon neutrality” greenwashing …. https://carbonmarketwatch.org/2023/09/20/carbon-market-watch-welcomes-eu-ban-on-carbon-neutrality-greenwashing/.
(4) Brussels to crack down on greenwashing with ban on ‘carbon neutral’ labels. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2023/09/20/eu-brussels-crack-down-greenwashing-ban-carbon-neutral/.
(5) Third of UK’s biggest companies commit to net zero – GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/third-of-uks-biggest-companies-commit-to-net-zero.
(6) UK’s largest companies pledge hundreds of millions of pounds … – GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uks-largest-companies-pledge-hundreds-of-millions-of-pounds-to-tackle-climate-change.
(7) COP26 sees UK businesses lead the world in climate change commitments. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cop26-sees-uk-businesses-lead-the-world-in-climate-change-commitments.
(8) COP26: UK firms forced to show how they will hit net zero. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-59136214.
(9) Doing Well By Doing Good: How Business Can Tackle the Climate Emergency …. https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/doing-well-by-doing-good-how-business-can-tackle-the-climate-emergency.
(10) Actions Businesses Can Take To Fight Climate Change – Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2021/03/24/actions-businesses-can-take-to-fight-climate-change/.
(11) Businesses named on ‘A-list’ for tackling their climate impact. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/20/businesses-named-on-a-list-for-tackling-their-climate-impact.
(12) How Businesses Can Help Address Climate Change – Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2021/06/17/how-businesses-can-help-address-climate-change/.
(13) EU to ban greenwashing and improve consumer information… https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20230918IPR05412/eu-to-ban-greenwashing-and-improve-consumer-information-on-product-durability
(14) UK Government funding https://www.gov.uk/guidance/find-funding-to-help-your-business-become-greener