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The European Union’s executive arm proposed rules Wednesday to protect consumers from businesses selling goods labeled as green which actually aren’t.
The European Commission said greenwashing was a notable problem, with 53% of green claims on products or services making “vague, misleading or unfounded information.”
About 230 sustainability labels are in use across the 27-nation EU, “with vastly different levels of transparency,” according to the commission.
EU SHOULD NOT LEGALLY DEFINE ‘GREENWASHING,’ FUND GROUPS SAY
With its “green claims” directive, the commission wants to set common criteria that would bring more clarity. The European Parliament and EU member countries need to approve the initiative for it to take effect.
Under the proposal, companies that claim the packaging for their products is made of 30% recycled plastic would have to prove it with scientific evidence. EU countries would be in charge of setting up verification processes overseen by independent bodies.
European Union Commissioner Justice Didier Reynders speaks at the commission headquarter on Nov. 30, 2022. The commission proposed new criteria that would require companies to prove its green claims with scientific evidence. Reynders said this would allow consumers to gain the tools needed when choosing green products. (Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)
Businesses based outside the EU making environmental claims that are directed at the bloc’s consumers also would have to respect the requirements.
The directive excludes claims covered by existing EU rules, such as the EU Ecolabel, the bloc’s voluntary label for environmental excellence, or the organic food logo, which the commission says are trustworthy and guarantee a low environmental impact.
As part of the European Green Deal goal of making the EU climate neutral by 2050 and to support waste reduction, the commission also proposed rules to promote the repair of goods such as washing machines or smartphones by introducing a so-called right to repair for consumers.
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“Within the legal guarantee, sellers will be required to offer repair except when it is more expensive than replacement. Beyond the legal guarantee, a new set of rights and tools will be available to consumers to make ‘repair’ an easy and accessible option,” the commission said.
“Consumers will gain the tools they need to choose repair and make a positive contribution to the circular economy,” EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said. “It will also send an important message to companies that sustainable business models and investments in repairs pay off.”