The European Union is to ban a number of “problematic marketing habits” related to greenwashing and early obsolescence of goods.
The aim of the new rules is to protect consumers from misleading practices and help them make better purchasing choices.
Negotiators from the European Parliament and Council have agreed to ban the following practices:
• Generic environmental claims such as “environmentally friendly”, “natural”, “biodegradable”, “climate neutral” or “eco”, without proof of recognised excellent environmental performance relevant to the claim;
• Commercial communications about goods with a feature that limits its durability if information is available on the feature and its effects on the durability;
• Claims based on emissions offsetting schemes that a product has neutral, reduced or positive impact on the environment;
• Sustainability labels not based on approved certification schemes or established by public authorities; and
• Durability claims in terms of usage time or intensity under normal conditions, if not proven.
The European Parliament also agreed on steps to guarantee that information is more visible, as many people are not aware that all goods enjoy at least a two-year guarantee in the EU.
The European Commission will also design a new label for producers willing to highlight the quality of their goods by extending the guarantee period free of charge.
The European Parliament’s rapporteur Biljana Borzan said the body had achieved an excellent deal for consumers.
“Sixty percent of European consumers are not even aware a legal guarantee comes with all products.
“That changes today, with a reminder to be present in every shop in the EU and also in some cases on packaging.
“Also, a new extended guarantee label will show clearly which products last longer, so it will be easier to buy more durable products.
“We have also negotiated a strong stance on early obsolescence. We shouldn’t advertise products that fail too early.
“In addition to that, we are clearing the chaos of environmental claims, which will now have to be substantiated, and claims based on emissions offsetting will be banned.”
In order to become law, the provisional deal will now have to get the final sign-off from both the Parliament and the Council.
The vote by MEPs is expected to take place in November.
When the directive comes into force, member states will have two years to incorporate the new rules into their law.