European Parliament takes on greenwashing and early obsolescence to empower consumers

The European Parliament cracked down on greenwashing and early obsolescence today, by voting for a stronger EU law to protect consumers from unfair commercial practices.

The Directive on Empowering Consumers for the Green Transition aims to curtail the misleading company tactics that hamper consumers’ sustainable choices. Today, the European Parliament’s Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) reinforced the original proposal by the European Commission, by pushing for more reliable sustainability labels and against climate-washing and early obsolescence.

Members of the European Parliament voted to ban all claims of a neutral, reduced, compensated or positive greenhouse gas emission impact on the environment based on carbon offsetting. The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) welcomed the restriction on these claims, which are among the most misleading, as they cannot be backed up by evidence, and they trick consumers into believing that products, services or entire companies are environmentally friendly when this is not the case.

The vote also confirmed that all sustainability labels will have to be based on a certification scheme or to be established by a public authority, and added provisions to improve the credibility and impartiality of such certification schemes.

In addition, the Parliament took on early obsolescence, by blacklisting designed features that limit the durability of a device, and tightened the screws on existing barriers to repair. Notably, companies will be required to provide further information to consumers on the repairability of their devices, including the availability of spare parts, as well as on certain practices that may inhibit repair.

European Environmental Bureau’s campaigner Miriam Thiemann said: “Today, the European Parliament defended consumer rights and reinforced the objectives of this law: to clear the EU market from misleading green claims and labels, and to empower consumers to choose truly sustainable and durable products.”

Following today’s vote within the IMCO Committee, the Directive will be examined by the European Parliament’s plenary, which is expected to have its say in April. The EEB calls on all Members of the Parliament to pursue the line taken by the IMCO Committee and confirm the ambition of the proposal.


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