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The Green Claims Guidelines

Published December 2, 2002

Green claims are claims about the environmental benefits of products. Such claims should meet all requirements that apply to product claims in general. They should not be false or intentionally misleading. However, environmental claims raise some specific questions that cannot be answered by mere application of the general standard of truthfulness. To provide guidance and set more detailed rules, the European Commission has prepared guidelines for making and assessing environmental claims (“Green Claims Guidelines”). The Green Claims Guidelines are based on the international standard ISO 14201:1999, “Environmental Labels and Declarations - Self Declared Environmental Claims.” The ISO distinguishes three types of green claims: Type I claims, which are based on third party verification, Type II claims, which are based on self-declarations, and Type III claims, which are based on life cycle impacts. The Commission guidelines deal only with Type II claims, not Type I and III claims. They are intended to implement ISO 14021, 1999, not to replace it, and are therefore less likely to discriminate against imported products. The Commission is in the process of reviewing the guidelines, but it is uncertain whether it will propose any changes.


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