Environmental labelling of products subject to more stringent rules!

On January 17, 2024, with overwhelming majority, the EU Parliament adopted a new law (LINK) banning greenwashing and misleading product information. The Directive amends Directives 2005/29/EC (concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices) and 2011/83/EU (on consumer right) as regards empowering consumers for the green transition through better protection against unfair practices and through better information.

In order to support consumers in making informed purchasing choices, the proposal tackles inaccurate and unsubstantiated marketing claims for products.

With hundreds of environment- and sustainability-related labels being used on products marketed in the EU, verification of the claims is often impossible. To tackle widely spread greenwashing practices, the new regulation bans the use of general environmental claims like “environmentally friendly”, “natural”, “biodegradable”, “climate neutral” or “eco” without proof or verification. Only labels associated with a certification scheme or established by public authorities will be permitted in the EU. Claims based on emissions offsetting schemes which claim that a specific product has a neutral, reduced or positive environmental impact will be prohibited as well.

At the same time, new labeling requirements are being created by introducing a new, harmonized label which aims at making products with an extended guarantee period more visible to consumers, moving products’ durability into their focus.

This recent development again highlights the importance of a solid process for product labeling and, ultimately, securing sustainable market access for products. Requirements are becoming more complex, moving away from waste (stream) labeling and product safety marks towards a more life-cycle-based approach, making marking with information on materials, durability and even consumer rights mandatory as well.