This week, the European Parliament adopted a new law banning greenwashing and misleading product information, often described as ”anti-greenwashing laws”. Communication agency The New Division was founded with the assignment of creating the communicative language for the SDGs by the UN, focusing on sustainability and work with small, big companies, start-ups, and NGOs.
— We are committed to driving change through our clients! König explains. Currently, we have a new assignment for the UN, focusing on communication around the global framework for biodiversity — COP15 — which we hope will make it easier to engage 7 billion people.
Why is this new legislation so important? And who will it affect?
— It will affect all companies using green claims for their communication in the EU, on products, services, company, and brand names. It also decides how you can communicate on usage, recycling and repair of products and it will ban communication related to credit claims. It will come into effect when being implemented in national legislation during the coming two years.
— For Sweden and a few other countries, we already have legislation and practices in place. In addition, the ICC (International Chamber of Commerce) already has good guidelines. So already today, there are rules to abide to. I personally think that the directive is challenging at parts; around ownership, who is to do revisions, costs, fines, and such. It is a clear result of market failure. Business has not been able to change consumer behaviour and create new revenue streams connected to more sustainable choices, so legislation ’had to’ step in.
This kind of legislation is most often a result of negotiations and compromises. What’s your view on the end result?
— The good part is to have an international framework, direction, concern for the consumer, ambition for the EU, as we are part of a European and global market. It will influence the global market as in so many other cases. Challenging is the lack of impact assessment; how it will affect SMEs and drive sustainable consumer behaviour change, that is needed to transform society. Here I think one could have been smarter.
How will you continue to follow the process?
— You mean of the implementation of the Directive? By trying to discuss, bring up examples, be a generator for possibilities to drive sustainable business and consumer behaviour, which is crucial for a green transition to take place. I believe even more in developing data, to avoid communicating externally, to drive CRM and other methods of how to benefit suppliers and consumers to shift towards a more sustainable behaviour. I will try to consult and support companies with good sustainable solutions, services, and products to communicate according to the new regulation.
And how do you recommend brands and brand owners to follow it?
— Read up and engage all relevant stakeholders in the company on what the current and future guidelines and rules means for the communication. Work cross disciplinary. Do not leave it up to the Communication or Marketing Department. Place demands on your agencies and consultants, to be competent on the issues. Work together with them — it is a new area, so there are lot of grey zones.
What do you recommend specifically for the textile and fashion industries?
— Continue with your ambitions, review if they are good enough, and in proportion to how you can affect your industry and society. Review your strategies and connect them to data, sales, and your revenue streams. Communicate where the customers are, on the labels, clothes, textiles, or online at the point of purchase. Communicate throughout the supply chain and around the use of the product, König shares, adding,
— More in general, be courageous. Try to dare more. Challenge your own business models. Double the good, half the bad. Make it simple for your co-workers and your consumers to understand what sustainability efforts you are engaged in. Try to be open about what is hard, and share when you test, trial, and fail.