“Climate Neutrality” Label Under Fire

More and more companies are refraining from advertising with the label “climate neutralit”y. The drugstore chain Rossmann also wants to do without the Climate Partner label in the future. The eco detergent manufacturer Werner & Mertz has already massively criticized this label .

“The label is basically dead,” Rossmann founder son Raoul Roßmann stated in an interview with the weekly newspaper Zeit. The entrepreneur of the Rossmann retail chain of the same name wants to keep products labeled as climate-neutral for another year or so. Until the packaging was used up, he said. Anything else would not be sustainable. “Then we will use the money we have so far put into offsetting  in a different way,” Raoul Roßmann said. That swas a budget of one million euros, he said. According to Roßmann, it has been found  that the “climate neutral” label is not at all decisive for customers anyway. Even online, hardly anyone was looking for “climate-neutral” products, “even though the market studies had predicted that this would be a trend for us,” Rossmann said.

Die Zeit and the British Guardian had previously reported that a large proportion of the certificates purchased by large companies “appear to be worthless.” The accusation was that many companies were wrongly adorning themselves with the label “climate neutral.” Although Rossmann is not supposed to be affected by the revelations because it compensates with wind power, the label was now worthless, the report continued. Rewe and drugstore retailer dm are also said to want to part with the label.

Frosch manufacturer criticizes label

The manufacturer of the Frosch brand products, Werner & Mertz, sees itself vindicated in the face of this increasingly strong criticism of products advertised as “climate neutral.” Managing director and company founder Reinhard Schneider told Lebensmittelzeitung: “Companies that advertise with compensated climate neutrality are doing sustainability a disservice.”

Greenwashing accusation

The Mainz-based company regularly takes action against competitors whose advertising with climate neutrality Werner & Mertz does not consider correct. Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) also takes legal action against manufacturers who use the label without, in its view, demonstrably implementing the promise associated with it. “From our point of view, trade and industry are increasingly using advertising claims of alleged climate neutrality to conceal the actual climate impact of their products and services while still selling them as green.” On its homepage, DUH regularly publishes the companies against which it has ongoing proceedings, among them Nivea manufacturer Beiersdorf and food producer Danone.

Schneider, winner of the German Environmental Award, has also been denouncing the use of falsely declared recyclate in packaging for some time and warns against greenwashing. The accusation: instead of increasingly using used plastic from the yellow bag, the import of cheap “recyclate” from Asia continues to increase – without the possibility  of verifying whether it is actually recycled material. “The risk of consumers being misled is very high here. It’s like money laundering, the origin of the PET is not transparent. It can be disguised in the blink of an eye,” Schneider explained.

Werner & Mertz has been working with cooperation partners along the entire value chain to promote high-quality mechanical recycling from the yellow bag source since 2012 as part of the “Recyclate Initiative” and has shown time and again that, technologically speaking, it is very much possible to produce equivalent packaging from so-called post-consumer recyclate: since 2014, the PET bottles of the well-known Frosch brand have been made from 100 percent PCR.

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