The European Commission is piloting a “Green Consumption Pledge”, which products stakeholders can sign up to until the end of March. The Green Consumption Pledge is designed to encourage voluntary commitments by businesses to increase the sustainability of their products and reduce their environmental footprint. This blog gives you some more details on the Green Consumption Pledge, the first initiative to be delivered under the New Consumer Agenda, as well as our thoughts on what it might mean for product manufacturers.

Signing up to the Green Consumption Pledge is voluntary, like the Product Safety Pledge. By signing up, companies commit to go beyond their legal obligations and to take measures in at least three of the following five pledge areas:

  1. Calculating the carbon footprint of the company including its supply chain”. The European Commission has developed a calculation methodology or environmental management scheme that is to be used for this purpose. Companies will also need to “establish proper due diligence processes towards achieving footprint reductions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement”.
  2. “Calculate the carbon footprint of selected flagship products” (again the Commission have developed a methodology for this purpose), reduce the carbon footprint of those products and inform the public of progress.
  3. “Increase the sale of sustainable products or services within the total sales of the company or its selected business part”.
  4. Commit part of PR expenditure “to the promotion of sustainable practices in line with the implementation of the European Green Deal policies and actions.
  5. Ensure information provided to consumers in relation to the company and product carbon footprints is easy to access, accurate and clear”, keeping this information up to date if the footprints increase or decrease.

The initial pilot phase will run until January 2022 and companies can sign up to join the pilot phase until 31 March 2021. After the pilot phase, there will be an evaluation of how it functioned, which will include participants, relevant consumer organisations and other stakeholders. After this, the intention is that the Green Consumption Pledge will be opened up to all other companies wishing to participate.

So why does this matter?

The Green Consumption Pledge is just one part of Europe’s very ambitious plans to tackle climate change. Although it’s voluntary, we recommend that all products stakeholders take note of the initiative because:

  • the commitments in the Green Consumption Pledge are likely to result in changes to best practice across industry, with the European Commission anticipating that participants will lead the transition to more sustainable practices;
  • it’s likely to push forward European and international policy discussions and could well be seen as the starting point for future green legislative requirements (indeed, at the launch event the European Commission explained that at the moment the pledge is asking “pioneer” companies to do more than is required under the law, but that if it works they will look at introducing legislation requiring all companies take these steps); and
  • it’s no accident that this sits within the EU’s “New Consumer Agenda”. This is an important area for EU consumers and the European Commission has presented evidence to show that the green credentials of products are now a key factor in their buying decisions. The additional steps contained in the Green Consumption Pledge are likely to raise the bar when it comes to what consumers expect from the companies they shop with.

So, the importance of the Green Consumption Pledge should not be underestimated. This is definitely one to watch and we will keep you updated with future developments. In the meantime, if your business may be interested in signing up, you can email [email protected] and find out more about the pledge here.