New Consumer Rights And A Ban On Greenwashing Are Proposed By The European Commission In The Consumer Rights Directive

The European Commission, with one more step towards the green transition, proposed on Wednesday 30 March, amend the Directive 2011/83/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on consumer rights, in order to help consumers to make informed decisions when shopping for environmentally-friendly products.

The new objective of the Commission is to increase the rights of consumers, but above all, is to guide consumers to make informed and environment-friendly choices that respect the environment in their purchase decisions.

To ensure this new purpose, it is intended to force sellers to provide trusted information about the duration of the product (how long a product is designed to last for) and the ways of its possible repair, prohibiting them from using false or unreliable environmental claims, known as “greenwashing”.

Information on the durability

The Commission proposes the need to provide information to consumers about the guaranteed durability of products.

The seller will be obliged to correctly inform the consumer of the guarantee and its specific duration, except when the seller has not received these data from the producer, especially when it comes to energy-using good, but in this case, the seller should also report that he has not been informed by the producer.

Information on repairs

The seller must also offer pertinent repair information in a clear and comprehensive way, such as the possibility of the reparability score or any relevant repair information provided by the manufacturer, such as the availability of spare parts or a repair manual. The consumer must be informed about software upgrades given by the producer for smart devices, digital content, and services.

The ban of the ”greenwashing” and practices misleading consumers about the durability of a product.

The proposal extends the list of product characteristics about which a trader cannot mislead consumers is expanded to cover the environmental or social impact, as well as the durability and reparability. It also intends to prohibit all false or unreliable environmental information, since this can mislead the consumer, who will make a decision influenced by information that is not real.

Where and when must the seller inform the consumer about the duration and possible repair of a product?

The seller is obligated to provide this information rather on the packaging or in the product description on the website.

This information should always be given before the purchase.

New prohibited unfair commercial practices

The proposal aims to include ten more new practices as unfair practices on the Annex I of the Directive 2005/29/EC, among which will stand out: practices as displaying a sustainability label which is not based on a certification scheme or not established by public authorities, making an environmental claim about the entire product when it actually concerns only a certain aspect of the product,  omitting to inform the consumer about the existence of a feature of a good introduced to limit its durability, or claiming that a good has a certain durability in terms of usage time or intensity when it does not.

[1] Directive 2011/83/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on consumer rights, amending Council Directive 93/13/EEC and Directive 1999/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Council Directive 85/577/EEC and Directive 97/7/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council Text with EEA relevance OJ L 304, 22.11.2011, p. 64–88

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