April 14. 2024. 6:43

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Green Claims: clarity is needed to empower consumers and industry to make sustainable choices

Suntory Beverage & Food Europe (SBFE) believes in the power of clear and accurate communications to consumers to drive more sustainable purchasing behaviours and better-informed choices. For over a century, Suntory has focused on driving positive impacts in communities worldwide, and SBFE continues this heritage in the EU. Our iconic brands, including Schweppes, Orangina and Oasis, offer a range of refreshment choices that bring joy and satisfaction to Europeans across the continent.

It is in SBFE’s interests to provide meaningful and accurate information to consumers and investors on the environmental performance of our products and our production. EU legislation on substantiating environmental claims should outline a clear regulatory framework that supports industry in delivering on objectives while avoiding unnecessary restrictions on our ability to market sustainable solutions to consumers.

Our commitment to sustainability is long-lasting and drives our commercial strategy

SBFE makes continuous investments in the transition to more sustainable products. Our Growing for Good[1] company values support a global strategy with local impact that empowers our business to act for positive change. SBFE is committed to delivering on the objectives of the European Green Deal and on the UN Sustainable Development Goals[2]. This is evidenced in our robust voluntary commitments to achieve:

  • 100% recyclable packaging by designing for circularity, and a minimum of 50% recycled plastic in our bottles by 2025;
  • 100% sustainable plastic bottles by 2030;
  • A 50% reduction in scope 1 and 2, and 30% reduction in scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions by 2030;
  • A 50% reduction in food waste from production by 2030;
  • A 20% reduction in water use by 2030, and;
  • Net-zero emissions across our business by 2050 or sooner.

SBFE is not alone in our commitment to a more sustainable future. We work collaboratively with our industry peers to drive ambitious sector-wide voluntary targets that have been recognised as best practice by EU regulators.

As our industry consolidates its leadership position in Europe’s circular transition, we must be able to communicate our story to those who purchase our products and invest in our business to continue driving consumer behavioural change.

Information is power but clarity is key

In its upcoming proposal on substantiating environmental claims, the European Commission’s (EC) stated objective is to ensure that reliable, comparable, and verifiable information is provided by industry to consumers and investors. The forthcoming regulation will introduce EU Product and Organisational Environmental Footprint (PEF/OEF) methodologies that aim to measure the environmental performance of products and organisations through their value chains, and thus substantiate claims made on how sustainable they are.

SBFE supports the objective of making environmental claims on products and organisations clear and actionable for consumers. The information that we use to market our products, and that which we provide in our annual sustainability reports is both reliable and verifiable given the importance of sustainability to our long-term corporate strategy.

Just as clear and accurate information is necessary to drive consumer behaviour towards a greener future, regulatory clarity is equally important to empower industry to deliver on political and societal objectives.

Uncertainty remains at this late stage over how the upcoming regulation on substantiating environmental claims will be implemented in practice. Will PEF/OEF methodologies be made mandatory or voluntary? If the latter, how will the EC operationalise its objective to harmonise the EU’s approach to PEF under a voluntary framework? How will this regulation interact with the proposal for a Directive on Empowering Consumers given that this initiative takes a restrictive stance on industry’s ability to market environmental claims to consumers? What will happen with environmental labelling schemes that are well respected and widely used, but which could be made obsolete by new EU rules?

Confusing and onerous information requirements will not advance sustainability goals

We listen attentively to our customers. Market research routinely tells us that consumers want to be more sustainable with their purchasing behaviours but do not know how to achieve that. SBFE’s ability to market its products with clear and accurate information on environmental performance empowers consumers to shop more sustainably. And our ability to assess purchasing behaviours based on our marketing of environmental performance drives additional investments in innovation and R&D for more sustainable packaging solutions and production processes.

If EU legislation makes information provision to consumers unclear and burdensome for industry to provide, there is a risk that brands will choose to not invest in more sustainable alternatives if they cannot promote their progressive approach to consumers. This will add nothing to the consumer experience and could disincentivise existing progress in making information clear and actionable for the public.

A future proof regulatory framework that enables our sector to deliver on societal and regulatory objectives for more sustainable products and production should include:

  • The development of Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCR) for soft drinks in collaboration with our industry.
  • Sector-specific guidance on PEF/OEF that is developed in collaboration with stakeholders and industry.
  • A clear and level playing field between soft drinks and other consumer products.

SBFE looks forward to working with decision-makers in the EU institutions to ensure that we right-size environmental claims legislation to drive more sustainable consumer behaviours.

Further Reading

[1] Visit our webpage for more information.

[2] Visit the progress report on our EU Code of Conduct commitments for more information.