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Consumers will be better protected against greenwashing and early obsolescence

On Wednesday 17 January, the European Parliament will adopt a set of rules to ban misleading claims and greenwashing to protect consumers.
 
Consumers today consider the environment when making a purchase. With this new law, the S&Ds achieved an excellent deal to protect consumers against unfair practices, such as greenwashing or early obsolescence.
 
Thanks to the S&D Group, the new law will include a ban on generic environmental claims such as ‘environmentally friendly’, ‘natural’, or ‘eco’ unless companies can prove the claim is accurate, and a ban will also apply to commercial communications about goods that contain a design feature introduced to limit product durability. Products with a commercial guarantee will have a label indicating its durability and a reminder of the obligatory legal guarantee to enable consumers to identify which products will last longer. 
 
Biljana Borzan, S&D vice-president and EP negotiator on ‘Empowering consumers for the green transition’, said:
 
“Today, 56% of EU consumers consider the environment when purchasing goods and services. With this new law, we are enabling citizens to choose products that are more durable, repairable, and sustainable.
 
“In the EU, there are more than 1200 green labels and claims, but barely 35% have any form of verification. The jungle of false environmental claims will end. With the new law, we are banning generic environmental claims such as ‘environmentally friendly’, ‘natural’, ‘biodegradable’, or ‘eco’ without proof of recognised excellent environmental performance relevant to the claim. Misleading claims based on emissions offsetting schemes like planting trees to compensate for CO2 emissions, such as ‘carbon-neutral’ or ‘CO2 neutral’ plastic bottles or flights will be banned. Airline companies will no longer be allowed to sell ‘climate- neutral’ flights encouraging passengers to buy carbon credits to compensate their emissions.
 
“Studies show that most products, like mobile phones, printers or washing machines, break between the second and third year of use. With this new law, the industry will no longer profit from making consumers buy goods that break just as the guarantee period is over. The new rules will fight against early obsolescence and will ban any commercial communication in relation to products that include features designed to limit a product’s durability. This has been a persistent demand from the Socialists and Democrats and we welcome that it was included in the final agreement.
 
“Around 60% of European consumers are not aware that they have a legal guarantee on all products for a minimum of two years. Products with a commercial guarantee will have a label indicating the length of the guarantee as well as the reminder of the legal guarantee. This way, consumers will know which products will last longer and will therefore choose the ones with a higher number on the label.”
 
The European Parliament will be voting on its report ‘Empowering consumers for the green transition’, tomorrow. Also on Wednesday, S&D vice-president and EP rapporteur Biljana Borzan, will explain the outcome of the vote during a press conference organised by the European Parliament at 14h30.
 
The deal has to get the final approval of the Council. When the directive comes into force, member states will have 24 months to incorporate the new rules into their law.

Photo by Le Creuset on Unsplash

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