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Hungarian Competition Authority urges stronger response to greenwashing

Mr. Csaba Rigó, President of the Hungarian Competition Authority in a speech at an event of the Swedish-Hungarian Chamber of Commerce in late 2022 stressed that the phenomenon of greenwashing should be stopped and authorities should work harder to provide consumers with reliable information regarding the environmental effects of services and products.

Greenwashing is a phenomenon, where consumers are faced with unclear or poorly-substantiated environmental claims (‘greenwashing’) from companies. This conduct is prohibited, as consumers are already confused with different numbers and indicators provided by companies in the field of environmental protection. Only in the EU 200 different environmental labels are used (and more than 450 worldwide).

The European Commission has published a draft directive empowering consumers for the green transition through better protection against unfair practices and better information in early 2022. The basis of this regulation is that consumers do not have reliable information on the sustainability of products, but they also regularly encounter deceptive commercial practices. The main goal of the new regulation is that consumers shall be well informed and shall be able to make informed decisions based on reliable information.

Under the directive, the EU would require, for example, information on the existence and length of a producer’s commercial guarantee of durability for all types of goods ensuring that traders do not mislead consumers about environmental and social impacts, durability and reparability of products. The draft directive is currently being discussed by the European Council.