New European directive (2024/825) to protect consumers from misleading green claims

On January 18, the new legislation was voted in the European Parliament (593 in favor, 21 against, and 14 abstentions) the new directive prohibiting false green claims 'greenwashing' and the dissemination on the market of misleading information about products to protect consumers from misleading information marketing and the empowerment of sustainable options. The new directive amends Directives 2005/29/EC and 2011/83/EU in terms of empowering consumers to go green through better protection against unfair practices and better information.

According to the principles of the Directive, ensuring that environmental claims are fair, reasonable, and credible will allow traders to operate on a level playing field and enable consumers to choose products that are genuinely better for the environment compared to competing products. In this way, competition leading to more environmentally sustainable products will be encouraged, and thus the negative impact on the environment will be reduced.

The directive prohibits the use of general environmental terms such as 'eco-friendly', 'natural', 'biodegradable', 'climate neutral' or 'ecological' without documentary evidence.

The use of sustainability labels will also be regulated, given the confusion caused by their proliferation and the inability to use comparative data. In the future, only sustainability labels based on official certification schemes or established by public authorities will be allowed in the EU. In addition, the directive horizontally prohibits claims that a product has a neutral, reduced, or positive impact on the environment in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

Finally, it is prohibited to make an environmental claim about the entire product (eg recyclability or content of recycled material) or the entire business of the trader, when in fact it only concerns a specific aspect of the product or a specific, non-representative activity of the trader's business.

The new legislation enters into force on the twentieth day of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (06.3.2024) and Member States have 24 months to incorporate the new rules into their legislation.

The rapporteur of the EP (Biljana BORZAN) in the relevant press interview emphasized that this law would change the daily life of all Europeans! We will move away from throwaway culture, make marketing more transparent, and fight premature obsolescence. People will be able to choose products that are more durable, repairable, and sustainable thanks to trusted labels and advertising.

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