ACM sets requirements for sustainability claims

Claims about the sustainability of products and services are immediately subject to rules. The Dutch Consumer and Market Authority (ACM) has drawn up rules of thumb to ensure that consumers are properly and fully informed.

Companies that break the rules can eventually be tackled, the ACM warns.

For consumers, sustainability plays an increasingly important role when making purchases, the regulator notes. This makes it attractive for companies to promote products and services as sustainable. Consumers cannot check the claims themselves. They must be able to trust that the claims companies make are correct, according to the ACM.

The rules require, among other things, that it must be clear what sustainability benefit a product or service has. In doing so, sustainability claims must be substantiated with facts that must be updated again and again. Furthermore, the GCM warns that comparisons with other products, services or companies must be fair. There should also be no doubt about the efforts made by ones own company in the area of sustainability. Finally, the ACM demands that visual claims and labels should not be confusing.

Companies that do not abide by the rules can be tackled by ACM. This can be done by means of a fine or a penalty payment. Furthermore, ACM does not hesitate to publicly address the shortcomings of companies that do not comply very closely with the rules.

Consumers and companies can also report suspicions of false or misleading sustainability claims to the ACM.