MEPs adopt law to ban greenwashing and misleading claims

24th January 2024

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European Parliament members have voted to back a directive outlawing businesses from making generic environmental claims or giving misleading product information to consumers.

Under the law, companies operating in the EU will not be allowed to make claims about the environmental impact of their products or services unless they can be backed up by approved certification schemes or established by public authorities.

The move affects such claims such as “eco-friendly”, “environmentally friendly”, “natural”, “recycled” and “biodegradable”. The directive will also ban claims that a product has a neutral, reduced or positive impact on the environment because of emissions offsetting schemes.

The law will require producers to make guarantee information more visible with a new, harmonised label created to give more prominence to goods with an extended guarantee period.

Unfounded durability claims will be banned such as companies claiming that a washing machine will last for 5,000 cycles if this is not true under normal conditions. Prompts to replace goods earlier than strictly necessary, such as for printer ink, and presenting goods as repairable when they are not will also be outlawed.

“We will step away from throwaway culture, make marketing more transparent and fight premature obsolescence of goods,” said the European Parliament’s rapporteur Biljana Borzan. “People will be able to choose products that are more durable, repairable and sustainable thanks to reliable labels and advertisements.

“Most importantly, companies can no longer trick people by saying that plastic bottles are good because the company planted trees somewhere – or say that something is sustainable without explaining how.”


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