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01 October 2020 / article

New Dutch Rules on Sustainability Claims

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has drawn up rules of thumb for sustainability claims that businesses use when selling their products and services. These rules intend to reduce the number of false or misleading claims in advertisements.

On 22 September 2020, the ACM published a press release in which it announced new rules on sustainability claims.

The ACM observes that consumers are generally not able to verify such claims by themselves. Consumers should therefore be able to rely on such claims being truthful. The ACM believes that false or misleading claims (also referred to as ‘greenwashing’) may harm confidence among consumers, and may result in unfair competition with companies whose claims are verifiable.

The most important rules are:

  1. Businesses must make clear what sustainability benefits their products offer;
  2. Businesses must substantiate their sustainability claims with facts, and keep these up-to-date;
  3. Comparisons with other products, services, or companies must be fair;
  4. Businesses must be honest and specific about your company’s efforts with regard to sustainability;
  5. Businesses must make sure that visual claims and labels are useful to consumers, not confusing.

Says Edwin van Houten, Director of the ACM’s Consumer Department: “For consumers and businesses that wish to contribute to a more sustainable society, it is important that information about sustainability is correct and verifiable. These rules of thumb make clear what the requirements for sustainability claims are. If businesses and consumers encounter any false or misleading sustainability claims, they have the opportunity to submit them to us.”

The ACM has also called on the Dutch legislature to introduce stricter rules for certification labels to prevent consumers from being misled. In addition, the field of competition law, the ACM has published guidelines regarding the opportunities for businesses that wish to work together to promote sustainability.

Do you have any queries on what these new rules may mean for your company? The Loyens & Loeff Food & Beverages Team has the expertise to work with you on all food-related regulatory, legal, and tax issues, ensuring you always keep sight of your broader business objectives as you undertake your day-to-day food and beverage activities. Our unique multi-disciplined and dedicated approach offers you a genuine partnership for all activities: strategic advice, drafting contracts, handling transactions, or representing clients before administrative authorities.

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