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ACM: misleading information and certification labels regarding sustainability must stop

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) is calling on businesses not to use any misleading claims and logos, and to reduce the number of certification labels regarding sustainability. ACM will step up its enforcement efforts with regard to these practices. In addition, ACM is calling on the Dutch legislature to introduce stricter rules for certification labels, for example mandatory accreditation. These are some of ACM’s recommendations in this year’s edition of its annual publication called InSight, which is presented to Dutch lawmakers.

People and businesses are finding it more and more important to make sustainable choices. Certification labels, claims, and logos play a key role in their decision-making processes. A study commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy revealed that six in ten Dutch are interested in information about sustainability.

Martijn Snoep, Chairman of the Board of ACM, comments: “Any information that businesses provide about, for example, sustainability, must be correct and easy-to-understand. Only then are people able to make well-informed choices between different products and services. Certification labels, claims and logos can help people make choices that are right for them, but then those promises should not turn out be empty promises.”

Proliferation of certification labels, especially with regard to sustainability

Back in 2016, ACM observed a proliferation of certification labels, claims, and logos. Consumers are thus unable to distinguish between labels that do provide safeguards, and those that do not. ACM has now established that no improvements have occurred since, especially with regard to sustainability. Dutch environmental awareness organization Milieu Centraal found that almost 250 certification labels and logos are currently used with regard to sustainability. Another example are the CO2 certificates that can be purchased with airline tickets or car fuel as compensation for CO2 emissions. It is difficult for consumers to check whether these certificates are reliable and independent.

See also

17-07-2020 InSight 2020 - Better certification labels are necessary for making sustainable choices easier