Food and drink manufacturers are greenwashing their products by classifying them as CO2 neutral and must be banned, according to a leading European consumer NGO.
In a report released on Thursday, the European Consumer Organization (BEUC) says small ‘greenwashing’ labels are becoming more common on supermarket shelves, as more and more brands discreetly claim that the product on sale is climate-neutral and therefore fa good for the planet.
“For us, this is absolutely greenwashing,” Emma Calvert, head of food policy at BEUC, told RockedBuzz via Euronews.
“Having 100% CO2 neutral on a product is scientifically inaccurate and misleading consumers. There is no way for consumers at the supermarket to verify that they are using carbon sequestration projects to justify this claim.”
For BEUC, these labels are a misleading indication that it has marketing value that companies play on. He says more than half of European consumers believe environmental issues influence their food choices.
Consequently, he calls for a ban on this type of label.
The NGO also claims that the justification used by food companies to claim that products are CO2 neutral is invalid. Calvert said these companies are using carbon offsetting.
“Companies will pay a carbon credit to balance their carbon emissions. The problem is now it’s kind of a burn, pay later approach,” he explained.
“So, they’re emitting carbon right now and so the commitments are for tree planting projects mostly in the future.”
This compensation can therefore take years to be truly effective and is not guaranteed. Fires or extreme weather events could also cause these compensator trees to disappear.