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New EU legislation on environmental claims gets green light

New EU legislation on environmental claims gets green light

On 17 January, the European Parliament approved the text of a new European Union directive aimed at “empowering consumers for the green transition” by banning the use of certain unsubstantiated generic environmental claims in the EU, such as “environmentally friendly”, as well as claims such as “climate neutral” based on emission offsetting schemes. The Directive also regulates the use of sustainability labels and prohibits certain practices related to the premature obsolescence of consumer products.

This new directive to empower consumers for the green transition through better information and protection against unfair practices is part of a much larger package of EU measures, including the Ecodesign Regulation for sustainable products, the proposed Green Claims Directive and the Right to Repair Directive. The new Directive will enter into force by amending the current text of the EU’s Unfair Commercial Practices Directive and the Consumer Rights Directive.

Key reforms

The main reforms in the Directive are:

  • A ban on the use of unsubstantiated generic environmental claims such as ‘environmentally friendly’, ‘natural’, ‘biodegradable’ and ‘eco’.
  • A ban on the use of claims such as ‘climate neutral’, which suggest that a product has a neutral, reduced or positive impact on the environment due to emission offset schemes.
  • Regulate the use of sustainability labels, given the confusion caused by their proliferation and the lack of appropriate comparative data – under the new rules, only sustainability labels based on official certification schemes or produced by government bodies will be allowed in the EU.
  • A new harmonised label will be created for producers who wish to highlight that they offer a free extended warranty beyond the EU minimum of two years.
  • A ban on practices associated with the premature obsolescence of goods, such as:

    – Making unsubstantiated durability claims (e.g. claiming that a product will last longer than it will under normal circumstances).
    – Presenting software updates as necessary when they only improve functionality.
    – Presenting goods as repairable when they are not.
    – Encouraging consumers to replace consumables sooner than technically necessary.
    – Withholding information about the reduced functionality of a product when consumables, spare parts or accessories not supplied by the original manufacturer are used, or falsely claiming that such a reduction will occur.

Next steps

The next steps are for the new Directive to be finally adopted by the Council and then published in the EU’s Official Journal. Once the Directive enters into force, EU Member States will have two years to transpose it into national law.

Product compliance and environmental law firm

MAAK’s Product Compliance & Regulations team closely follows the development of sustainability regulations. It also monitors the development of the Green Deal implementation, including the EU Green Claims Directive, and the consequences for market participants.

If you require assistance in assessing the impact of these proposed regulations on your business, in particular the EU’s New Directive on Empowering Consumers for the Green Transition through Better Information and Protection from Unfair Practices, or on product compliance/regulation issues in general, please contact a lawyer in MAAK’s Product Compliance team. We will be happy to assist you with the challenges within your organisation.

Please contact: Martin Krüger | Dutch Lawyer
+31 (0)20 – 210 31 38

Martin Krüger

Martin Krüger

Our English-speaking Dutch attorney Martin Krüger leads MAAK Attorneys' Product Compliance & Regulation and the Dutch Product Liability Team. His team handles complex product safety and liability issues and, where necessary, assists clients with product withdrawals or recalls. Martin is also an experienced Dutch litigator in commercial disputes between companies and against market surveillance authorities. Visit Martin's profile via the website or via his LinkedIn Profile.