Joint statement in reference to “the ban of green claims for products containing hazardous substances” in the Green Claims Substantiation Directive (GCD).
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Joint statement in reference to “the ban of green claims for products containing hazardous substances” in the Green Claims Substantiation Directive (GCD).

Joint statement in reference to “the ban of green claims for products containing hazardous substances” in the Green Claims Substantiation Directive (GCD). Environmental claims play a crucial role in driving positive change, and we support the European Commission’s approach to tackle greenwashing and introduce a robust substantiation framework for environmental claims.

Our Associations fully support the principle that consumers should not be misled by false or unsubstantiated environmental claims and share the EU’s objective to establish a clear, robust and credible framework to enable consumers to make an informed choice. However, we remain highly concerned about the proposed prohibition of environmental claims for products containing certain hazardous substances.

We believe that a proposed ban of claims for products containing hazardous substances will run contrary to the objective of the Directive to enable consumers to make sustainable purchase decisions and ensure proper substantiation of claims.

For several products, including all cosmetics, detergents, products containing natural raw materials, and consumer products such as Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) cosmetics, detergents, textiles, furniture and others, the reference to “products containing” would encompass substances that would have intrinsic hazardous properties. This would imply that there would be a ban of making any environmental claim(s), even if such trace amounts of unavoidable and unintentional impurities and contaminants are present in these products. In practice, this would mean that most products, if
not all, would no longer be allowed to use environmental claims.

We would like to remind authorities that, even if a substance would be hazardous, it could still be properly risk managed, controlled, and further used in consumer products without provoking adverse effects on human health or the environment.

Consequently, this should not preclude the use of environmentally friendly claims, provided they are properly justified and compliant with the GCD.

Some substances may be classified as hazardous but are in effect key enablers of sustainability
improvements. Examples:

  • Most of the Natural Complex Substances (NCS) extracted from plants or plant parts contain
    substances that have intrinsic hazardous properties. These substances naturally present in
    (edible) plants, are widely present in food (confirming their acceptability for food
    consumption). For instance, p-cymene is a constituent of many essential oils (thyme oil,
    lavender oil, lemon oil, etc.) which would be in the scope of restriction due to its (coming)
    classification. These (natural) ingredients are widely used in various consumer products, as
    cosmetics, and cleaning and maintenance products. By essence, these constituents are not
    replaceable in these NCS. This would result in environmental claims ban on consumer
    products containing these hazardous ingredients. The rationale for these bans would be highly
    questionable given the objectives pursued by the GCD (i.e. requiring companies to
    substantiate voluntary green claims they make, taking a life-cycle perspective). This would also
    highly question the consistency of the approach in light of the objectives of the EU circular and
    bio-economy, addressing circularity aspects of bio-based products and the sustainable use of
    renewable natural resources.
  • Subtilisin, a type of protease, for instance, is the first detergent enzyme widely used in the EU
    since the 1960s. Proteases degrade protein stains in cloths e.g. blood, food and grass stains.
    Because of this activity, proteases can also affect aquatic organisms because animals in
    water/sea are made of proteins - just like human skin. Thereby protease is self-classified as
    toxic to aquatic environment under the CLP Regulation. However, there is no risk for the
    environment because protease, just like any other enzymes is biodegradable.
  • Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) can benefit both the consumer and the environment
    through improved energy efficiency, product longevity, or smart and effective application. LED
    luminaires with presence detectors and brightness sensors with daylight control can actively
    contribute to significantly reducing energy consumption. A ban on hazardous substances
    would affect the entire EEE industry, as almost all of such modern devices contain at least one
    or more substances such as lead, copper, and silver, which are primarily found within electronic
    components or traces of SVHC in recycled plastic components. A ban on communicating
    environmental claims stemming from the mere presence of such hazardous substances would
    de facto translate into an overall ineligibility of the entire EEE industry to share any other
    environmental aspects of such products towards consumers e.g., products with better energy
    efficiency. With regards to complex consumer products, environmental product properties are
    constituted of intricate and inevitable trade-offs between several different characteristics e.g.
    presence of hazardous substances versus energy efficiency and climate change. Therefore,
    such a ban could hinder innovation and potentially prevent consumers from choosing more
    sustainable alternatives.
  • Some products may contain unavoidable residual chemicals such as “Nonylphenol,
    ethoxylated” used in recycled wool, which is exempted from REACH restriction as per Annex
    XVII. Based on the interpretation of compromise amendment 60, products containing
    “Nonylphenol, ethoxylated” cannot communicate any environmental claims.
    The GCD will be a key component of the European Union's comprehensive legislative structure, aimed
    at promoting consistency and reliability in environmental claims for both consumers and businesses.
    • Existing legislation like CLP, REACH and RoHS already governs the safety and environmental impact
    of hazardous substances in products. REACH has established a process to ensure that the use of
    substances is safe according to the use-case, which should include without limitations the
    possibility for green product claims, in particular as the environmental benefits claimed often have
    a disconnect to a specific substance with a relevant hazard classification. The European
    Commission has stated (e.g., in the IMCO&ENVI meeting on November 6, 2023) that these
    frameworks are suited to handle these matters. The GCD aims to set clear regulations for justifying
    environmental claims and recognizing potential trade-offs.
    Our industries’ associations remain fully supportive of a timely adoption of an ambitious and
    implementable green claims directive that enables consumers to help drive the Green Transition.

List of signatories:
A.I.S.E. - International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance
AIM – European Brands Association:
AMFEP – Association of Manufacturers and Formulators of Enzyme Products:
EPTA – European Power Tool Association:
FESI – Federation of the European Sporting goods Industry: https://fesi-
IFRA – International Fragrance Association:
NATRUE aisbl, the International Natural and Organic Cosmetics Association:
TIE – Toy Industries of Europe:
ZVEI – Verband der Elektro- und Digitalindustrie:
WFA - World Federation of Advertisers: https:

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