Green Claims and Right to Repair proposals unveiled

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On 22 March, the European Commission unveiled the Green Claims and the Right to Repair initiatives, two much-awaited proposals aiming at promoting sustainability within the wider context of the Circular Economy Action Plan adopted in 2020. These proposals will set up frameworks to tackle misleading green claims and give consumers more options to choose repair.  

A new directive to regulate how businesses communicate on green claims 

The proposal on Green Claims is an attempt from the Commission to tackle “greenwashing” practices by framing how companies across Europe voluntarily communicate on their environmental impact. The text will push businesses to make relatable, comparable and verifiable green claims. This will ensure that consumers are not misled by unclear information and can trust the accuracy of these claims.  

The text includes requirements on the communication of the claims and covers a wide range of claims from the percentage of recycled-content per products to climate-related claims based on offsets. All voluntary claims made by a trader to a consumer about the environmental impacts, aspects or performance of a product, a service, or the trader himself will be covered by the new law. Furthermore, the text proposes a life-cycle approach of the product from raw materials to end of life.  

It will also set up a system of verification at national level in which EU Member States will have to put into place national authorities to monitor each claim. The verification will ensure that they are based on methodologies backed by scientific evidence ex-ante. Additionally, the European Commission plans on addressing the proliferation of environmental labelling across the European Union by prohibiting Member States to set up new public labelling schemes unless provided for at the EU level or if they “offer significant added value” compared to existing national or regional schemes. These new private schemes will need to show high environmental ambition and get pre-approval.  

Towards an expansion of the right to repair  

The second initiative unveiled by the Commission aims at promoting the right to repair which will help extend products’ life span and reduce waste. Under the new law, sellers will, for example, have to make repair the default remedy whenever it is cheaper than replacement. Beyond the two-year legal guarantee period, manufacturers will have to provide repair options but only to a limited number of products already covered by repairability requirements under European law. This will include the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation currently under discussions and could cover, among other goods, smartphones, tablets, TVs, washing machines or refrigerators.  

To make repair more attractive, Member States will be encouraged to set-up voluntary online matchmaking repair platforms to connect consumers with repairers and sellers of refurbished goods in their area. The proposal therefore aims at incentivizing competition between repair services and give the consumer options to go to independent repair services, other than those offered by the manufacturer. The Commission also suggests the creation of a European Repair Information Form which consumers will be able to request from any repairer (covering conditions, prices…) to compare offers. 

Ecommerce Europe welcomes these two proposals and look forward to providing the sectors’ input to ensure that the ambitions and objectives of the texts can support the green transition of e-commerce. The European Parliament and Member States will have a small window to negotiate and agree on those Directives. Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders expressed his wish to conclude the legislative process on these files before the looming 2024 European elections. 

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