in ,

After foodwatch criticism: Rewe stops controversial climate advertising

Historically Africa mobilizes against climate change

After criticism of the consumer organization foodwatch Rewe stopped controversial climate advertising. The supermarket chain had advertised products from its own brands "Bio + vegan" and "Wilhelm Brandenburg" as "climate-neutral". The retail group had offset the greenhouse gas emissions generated during production with certificates from climate projects in Uruguay and Peru, among other places. According to foodwatch, however, these supposed climate protection projects had glaring deficiencies. Rewe has now announced that once the goods have been sold, it will completely dispense with climate advertising.

"It's good that Rewe has now acted and stopped deceiving consumers. But: Many manufacturers take advantage of consumers' desire for climate-friendly products and advertise with misleading terms such as climate-neutral. In Brussels, the federal government must work hard to finally put a stop to greenwashing with climate advertising.", demanded foodwatch expert Rauna Bindewald.

The consumer organization criticizes the advertising of food as "climate neutral" as misleading. Many manufacturers would not seriously reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions, but calculate their products with the help of compensation projects in the global South as climate-friendly. foodwatch takes a critical view of this “selling in indulgences” because it does not reverse the emissions generated during production. In addition, the benefit of the alleged climate protection projects is questionable: According to a study by the Öko-Institut, only two percent of the projects keep their promised climate protection effect.

The Rewe case is an example of the weaknesses: Rewe had recently compensated for the products of its own brand “Bio + vegan” with certificates from the Guanaré forest project in Uruguay. In the project, eucalyptus monocultures are cultivated in industrial forestry. Glyphosate is sprayed and it is also questionable whether the project actually binds additional CO2, as research by ZDF Frontal revealed. After foodwatch Rewe had pointed out the weaknesses of the Guanaré project at the end of June, the group announced that it would “ensure retrospective CO2 compensation for REWE Bio + vegan through the additional purchase of certificates from the Ovalle wind energy project in Chile”. The discounter Aldi also uses certificates from the Guanaré project to calculate the milk of its own brand "Fair & Gut" as climate-neutral.

After a warning from foodwatch, Rewe had already stopped working with a controversial forest project in Peru in February. The company had used certificates from the Tambopata project to advertise its own-brand “Wilhelm Brandenburg” poultry products as climate-neutral. 

foodwatch calls for stricter rules for climate advertising

foodwatch is in favor of clear regulation of sustainable advertising promises. The conditions under which companies may advertise with the term "climate neutral" have not yet been defined in more detail. The European Commission has presented a draft directive to restrict greenwashing (COM(2022) 143 final). This directive would ban some practices and require more transparency. However, according to foodwatch, there are still major loopholes because misleading terms such as "climate neutral" are not generally banned and seals without serious environmental benefits are allowed.

Sources and further information:

Photo / Video: Shutterstock.

Written by Option

Option is an idealistic, completely independent and global “social media platform” on sustainability and civil society. Together we show positive alternatives in all areas and support meaningful innovations and future-oriented ideas - constructively critical, optimistic, at the bottom of reality. The option community is dedicated exclusively to relevant news and documents the essential progress of our society.

Leave a Comment