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2023-05-04 23:58:21
Friday 00:23:17
May 05 2023

Uncompromising sustainability: How to combat greenwashing and guide consumers towards responsible consumption in the EU

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To be eco-friendly or not to be eco-friendly! Making an informed choice puts the consumer in the best position. This premise is sometimes compromised by a set of data that does not correspond to the quality of the product. In this regard, the European Council has adopted its position on the proposal for a directive to make consumers responsible in the green transition, strengthening consumer rights, banning generic environmental indications, and introducing a harmonized graphic format to help consumers recognize commercial guarantees of sustainability. The Council's position aims to address unfair commercial practices, such as misleading "green" claims or products that break down sooner than expected or are too difficult or costly to repair, in order to strengthen consumers' right to information. The proposal also aims to create a single commercial guarantee of sustainability for manufacturers, offering a single visual logo for consumers to identify products covered by such a guarantee. The Council's position allows Member States to adapt to changes in legislation within 24 months.

In practice, the goal is to adopt responsible #Greenwashing, a term that refers to the deceptive advertising practice used by a company or organization to present an image of being environmentally friendly and sustainable when it is not. This practice may include the use of misleading statements on product labels, advertising, or press releases to make a product or activity appear eco-friendly, even though it is not.

The main objective of greenwashing is to improve the company or organization's image and increase product sales by exploiting consumers' growing interest in sustainability and the environment. However, this type of practice can be harmful to consumers and the environment, as it can lead to wrong purchasing decisions and greater environmental damage.

To combat greenwashing, it is important for consumers to be able to recognize false or misleading claims and make informed purchases. Regulatory authorities are also introducing stricter regulations to prevent greenwashing and protect consumers.

European Council's Deep Dive

The European Council has adopted the negotiating mandate on the proposal for a directive to make consumers responsible for the green transition. The aim is to strengthen consumer rights by amending the directive on unfair commercial practices and the directive on consumer rights. The Council's position strengthens consumer rights, bans generic environmental indications, and introduces a harmonized graphic format from the European Union to help consumers recognize commercial guarantees of sustainability.

The green transition requires a collective effort, and consumer behavior is critical to its success. The Council's position aims to provide consumers with reliable information, protection from deceptive advertising, and simpler ways to recycle or repair.

The Council's position also addresses unfair commercial practices that consumers face when trying to purchase more sustainable products, such as misleading "green" claims or products that break sooner than expected or are too difficult or expensive to repair. The Council proposes to ban generic environmental claims and only allow sustainability labels based on official certification schemes or registered as certification marks or established by public authorities.

The Commission's proposal expands the annex to the Directive on Unfair Commercial Practices by listing the commercial practices that will be prohibited in all circumstances, called the "blacklist." There are also amendments to the Directive on Consumer Rights, which introduce a commercial warranty of durability for manufacturers and obligate professionals to provide the right to information for products containing digital elements.

The proposal still needs to be discussed and approved by the European Parliament. However, the Council's position is an important step towards greater consumer accountability in the green transition.


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Waste in the traditional model

Air - waste incineration pollutes the air and causes air pollution

  • Water - waste from factories affects the underground water table
  • Sea - plastic waste ends up in the sea
  • Soil - landfills contaminate the soil for agriculture

Minimizing waste: circular economy

  • Eco-innovation - use products that do not harm the environment
  • Resources - reduce dependence on natural resource imports from outside the EU
  • Recycling - reintroduce waste into the economy through sustainable reuse, recycling, biodegradable waste

Main links

Technical Glossary:

  • Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD): European regulation that regulates unfair commercial practices towards consumers, with the aim of protecting them and promoting a fair market.
  • Consumer Rights Directive (CRD): European regulation that guarantees consumers a series of rights, including the right of withdrawal, the right to information, and the right to a guarantee.
  • Circular economy: an economic model based on reducing waste and maximizing the use of available resources, with the aim of minimizing environmental impact.
  • Sustainability labels: graphical indications that provide information on the sustainability of a product, based on official certification schemes or registered certification marks or established by public authorities.
  • Commercial durability warranty: the manufacturer's commitment that the product will maintain certain functions or performances during a specified period.
  • Unfair commercial practices: improper behaviors by professionals towards consumers, including misleading statements, products that break down sooner than expected, or that are too difficult or expensive to repair.
  • Protection from deceptive advertising: measures aimed at protecting consumers from misleading information provided by professionals, through the ban of generic environmental claims such as "ecological," "green," or "climate-neutral."
  • Withdrawal: the consumer's right to withdraw from the purchase contract of a product within a certain period of time, without any penalty.
  • Certification schemes: procedures for evaluating the environmental and social characteristics of products, aimed at ensuring their sustainability.
  • Green transition: the process of transitioning to a low environmental impact economy, based on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and using renewable resources.
  • European Union: an international organization composed of 27 European countries, with the aim of promoting economic, political, and social cooperation among its members.

Points in the article that have been included in the technical glossary:

  • Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD)
  • Consumer Rights Directive (CRD)
  • Circular economy
  • Sustainability labels
  • Commercial durability warranty
  • Unfair commercial practices
  • Protection from deceptive advertising
  • Withdrawal
  • Certification schemes
  • Green transition
  • European Union

Source by Redazione

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