Red card to greenwashing and early obsolescence: EU Parliament votes to strengthen consumer protection
The European Parliament has taken decisive action against unfair commercial practices today, by approving a stronger EU law that safeguards consumers from deceptive environmental claims and early obsolescence .
The Directive on Empowering Consumers for the Green Transition intends to restrict deceiving business practices that hinder consumers’ sustainable choices. Today’s plenary vote confirmed the decision of the Parliament’s committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection back in March  to support more reliable sustainability labels and combat climate-washing, early obsolescence and barriers to repair.
Notably, the Parliament voted to ban claims that products have a neutral, reduced, compensated, or positive greenhouse gas emission impact on the environment based solely on carbon offsetting. The European Environmental Bureau applauded the restriction of such claims, which are among the most misleading as they cannot be substantiated by evidence, and they make customers think that products are eco-friendly when they are not. However, the Parliament failed to ban environmental claims for products, services or trader’s activities that promote fossil fuels or highly polluting industries.
The vote also confirmed that all sustainability labels must be based on a certification scheme or established by a public authority, and introduced measures to ensure that such certification schemes are credible and impartial, like the EU Ecolabel.
Additionally, the Parliament addressed early obsolescence by banning the introduction of designed features that limit the longevity of devices, and strengthened restrictions on some current obstacles to repair. Once the law is adopted, companies will have to provide consumers with additional information about device repairability, such as spare parts availability and the impact software might have on their devices’ functionality. On the other hand, the Parliament failed to enforce more transparency of practices that restrict independent or self-repair.
Miriam Thiemann, a campaigner for the European Environmental Bureau welcomed today’s vote as a significant victory for consumers and the environment: “The European Parliament has taken a bold stance against misleading green marketing. This is a crucial step in protecting consumers’ rights and ensuring that they can make informed choices in favour of genuinely sustainable products.”
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