In the third part of our series “Product Compliance and Sustainability”, we are looking at the current developments of the increasingly important requirements for environmental labeling of products. What are the actual benefits of environment-related product information, which we already encounter in an incredible variety on a daily basis – and how do you keep the focus on what really drives the transformation towards a circular economy?
Product labeling – quo vadis 2022
The legal obligation to provide information on environmentally related product characteristics, such as reparability, energy efficiency or system-compatible disposal and recyclability, is increasingly reflected in the complex design of product labels. Manufacturers of products having a large recycling potential due to their high resource and energy intensity are now more than ever affected by obligations to label their products. Such requirements vary greatly from one EU Member State to another… and it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of new and changing labeling obligations and formats.
The EU’s efforts to replace the patchwork of labeling with an EU product passport are provided for in the circular economy plan and are to be implemented “product by product” over the next few years – starting in the first quarter of 2022. Environmental information requirements oriented along the entire product life cycle shall contribute to the transformation towards a circular economy and thus the “Fit for 55” target.
In addition to plastics and products from the chemical industry, the focus is on electronic devices, batteries and packaging, but also on furniture and textiles, for example. The current draft of a battery regulation, which will replace Directive 2006/66/EU in the course of the year, is getting the ball rolling with the requirement of a mandatory battery passport (from 2026).
Green claims or greenwashing? – How to keep the focus!
At the same time, the increasing importance of environmental information also increases the risk of unbalanced emphasis on individual features and ultimately the “greenwashing” of products. Binding criteria, which must, however, take into account the specific requirements of different economic and market sectors, are therefore essential for truly meaningful and, above all, comparable product information.
At the same time, it is important to take a critical look at supposedly “voluntary” additional labels, which often only evaluate a small aspect of a product’s properties without considering the effects in the overall context. The European Consumer Agenda, which we await to be further developed in 2022, therefore consistently envisages regulating product-related environmental information within the framework of a directive and thus ensuring the availability of information within the framework of binding sustainability logos and quality seals without embellished “greenwashing”.
Our NovaLoop ELLIE module (Environmental Labeling and Information Inventory) allows manufacturers to keep an eye on the current environmental labels of their products on a product- and market-specific basis. We would be happy to support you in your product labeling compliance – in over 80 countries worldwide! Please do not hesitate to contact us.