A new anti-greenwashing regulatory barrier has been voted in by the European Parliament for businesses wishing to label their products as ‘carbon neutral’ or environmentally sustainable.
In a significant development, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have given their support to a proposed legislation aimed at improving product labelling and durability, and curbing deceptive claims, otherwise known as ‘greenwashing’. The vote on Thursday saw an overwhelming majority of 544 votes in favour, 18 votes against and 17 abstentions, signalling a resounding approval for the new directive.
One of the key aspects of the legislation includes banning environmental claims lacking considerable evidence to back them up, such as terms like ‘environmentally friendly’, ‘natural’, ‘biodegradable’, ‘climate neutral’, or ‘eco’. In order to use these terms, companies will need to ensure they are accompanied by detailed evidence that explains how and why this is the case.
Moreover, the directive seeks to ban environmental claims which rely solely on carbon offsetting schemes, ensuring that companies provide more tangible and verifiable sustainability efforts.
To simplify product information for consumers, MEPs foresee allowing only sustainability labels based on official certification schemes or established by public authorities to be used.
Improving product lifespan
Early obsolescence, also referred to as ‘planned’ obsolescence, is a business approach where a product is deliberately created, produced, or promoted in a way that guarantees its short lifespan or limited functionality. The objective is to prompt consumers to replace or upgrade the product more often, leading to increased sales and consistent demand. However, this practice causes considerable financial strain on consumers and contributes to significant waste.
To address these issues, MEPs are recommending measures to ban design features that shorten a product’s lifespan or cause premature malfunctioning. They also want to prevent producers from limiting a product’s functionality when used with consumables, spare parts, or accessories made by other companies, such as chargers or replacement ink cartridges.
To allow consumers to make informed choices, buyers should receive information about any repair restrictions before making a purchase. Additionally, MEPs suggest introducing a new guarantee label that not only shows the mandatory guarantee period, but also any optional extensions offered by producers. It is believed this label would emphasise the quality of goods and encourage companies to prioritise durability.
Negotiations between the Parliament and the member states on the final content and wording of the directive will start soon.
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