The latest update on the EU ‘greenwashing ban’

By Kirsty Doolan

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

Related tags greenwashing Eco labels European union European commission Eu circular beauty Environment

The European Parliament and European Council have reached a provisional agreement on new rules to ban misleading marketing and provide clearer product information.

In order to become the law across the European Union, this provisional deal will need to go to a final vote from both the Parliament and the Council in November this year.

Member states will then have 24 months to incorporate the new rules into their law.

The agreement updates the existing EU list of banned commercial practices and also adds several new factors related to greenwashing and early obsolescence of goods that it considers to be problematic for consumers and the environment.

It said the aim of the new rules is to “protect consumers from misleading practices and help them make better purchasing choices.”

As a result of the agreement, generic environmental claims and other misleading marketing tricks will be banned. This ban will also apply to commercial communications about goods that contain a design feature introduced to limit product durability.

Only sustainability labels based on approved certification schemes or those established by public authorities will be allowed.

Guarantee information will also need to be made more visible and a new guarantee extension label will be introduced.

What will be banned?

According to the agreement the following will become illegal:

  • Generic environmental claims, eg ‘environmentally friendly’, ‘natural’, ‘biodegradable’, ‘climate-neutral’ or ‘eco’, without proof of recognised excellent environmental performance relevant to the claim;
  • Commercial communications about a product 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;
  • Durability claims in terms of usage time or intensity under normal conditions, if not proven;
  • Prompting the consumer to replace consumables earlier than strictly necessary;
  • Presenting software updates as necessary even if they only enhance functionality features;
  • Presenting goods as repairable if they are not.

As a result of this agreement, product guarantee information will also need to become more visible.  

The Commission will design a new label especially for those companies that are willing to highlight the quality of their goods by extending the guarantee period free of charge, so they can instantly show consumers that they offer this service.  

Commenting on the deal reached, MEP Biljana Borzan said: “We are clearing the chaos of environmental claims, which will now have to be substantiated, and claims based on emissions offsetting will be banned.”

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