Greenwashing on cars, the first sentence in Italy. Generic and unverifiable information on eco materials is prohibited

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Italy is the legal battleground of a Japanese dispute over greenwashing, the so-called facade environmentalism. Alcantara, owned by the Toray group, won in the first instance a victory at the expense of Miko (the terms for appeal expire today), of the Asahi Kasei Corporation, a rival for example in the supply of upholstery for car interiors. The Umbrian company challenged the Friulian company for the use of a series of informative contents about the Dinamica material, obtaining a precautionary order because “green environmental declarations must be clear, truthful, accurate and not misleading, based on scientific data presented in a understandable”. The material, as shown by various official communications, was used by BMW, Volkswagen, Audi, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. Car manufacturers, which must and want to reduce their environmental impact, could be the first victims of greenwashing detected by the Court of Gorizia, which ordered the sending of the order to the same customers who used the material as well as the prohibition of use. of 8 separate messages and the publication of the device both on the company’s website and in various newspapers, including foreign ones.

De Cristofaro, Stoppioni and Ciotti

This is the first sentence of this kind in Italy and among the first in Europe and was welcomed with satisfaction by Save the Planet, a non-profit organization that aims to promote concrete projects to protect the environment and the earth and who wanted to highlight the verdict. “The initiative carried out with Alcantara can become a first, fundamental case history which in terms of greenwashing can be a case of jurisprudence”, declared the president Elena Stoppioni.

Attention to the environment and sustainability cannot be a mere marketing strategy: an analysis by the European Commission itself has already highlighted the growing tendency to include certain terms in official information without real scientific support. For the president of Save the Plante there are two cases: “Either sustainability is measurable or it is not sustainable”. Messages such as “first sustainable and recyclable microfiber”, “100% recyclable”, “reduction of energy consumption and CO2 emissions by 80%”, “friend of the environment” ended up in the sights first of Alcantara and then of the ordinary judiciary “,” Natural choice “and” ecological microfiber “.

Boragno (Alcantara) denounces “greenwashing”, the ecologism of the façade, at the Monaco Auto Show
(Mattia Eccheli)

The dispute is anything but a question of goat’s wool because there are colossal interests around the circular economy and the environmentally friendly industry. According to S&P, this year “green” bonds could reach 1 trillion dollars in value. The allocation of these resources takes away the sleep of almost half of the investors (44%), worried about their right destination.

For Gianluca De Cristofaro, lawyer and partner of the LCA law firm who assisted Alcantara, the ruling is a step forward because it established that “‘green’ environmental declarations must be clear, truthful and accurate, and based on scientific data”. What the consequences may be is still difficult to predict, even in the automotive field in which the race for carbon neutrality, zero emissions and canceled impact has begun. The new certainty that emerges from the provision is that when it comes to the environment, an issue capable of influencing the choices of 70% of consumers, there is no space for advertisements, but only for demonstrable data. On behalf of the European Association of Polyester Producers, President Antonello Ciotti referred to the ordinance as a “milestone towards a just elimination of all incorrect behavior”, aiming to defend the concept of “recycled material” and suggesting also a precise definition of the percentages of the contents.

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