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EU bans “greenwashing” in advertising

“Environmentally friendly”, “sustainable” or “climate neutral” – if such advertising claims about products cannot be verified, they should be banned in the EU in the future. The EU Parliament has now passed a corresponding law.

The EU wants to better protect consumers from false advertising promises. The European Parliament has passed a directive that is intended to make so-called greenwashing more difficult in the future. This means that advertising that misleadingly advertises products as environmentally friendly will be banned.

The new regulations are primarily intended to make product labeling clearer and more trustworthy by banning general environmental claims such as “environmentally friendly”, “natural”, “biodegradable”, “climate neutral” or “eco” unless these are proven.

“Stop misleading advertising”

“The law puts an end to misleading advertising with supposedly environmentally friendly products,” explained the chairwoman of the European Parliament's Consumer Protection Committee, Anna Cavazzini (Greens). It should “no longer appear that planting trees in the rainforest makes the industrial production of a car” climate-neutral.

With “greenwashing,” companies try to create a positive image for themselves through claims about environmental protection measures or climate-friendly production, even though upon closer inspection they do not operate sustainably.

Only certified ones Sustainability seal

The use of sustainability seals will also be regulated in the future. There are currently more than 200 different environmental labels across Europe, each based on different methods. The new law should only allow seals that are based on official certification systems or that were introduced by the state.

The background is that these seals are not necessarily comparable and it is often not possible to check how environmentally friendly products actually are.

Warranty periods and durability should become more transparent

In the future, claims about the durability of technical products such as washing machines will also be banned if they cannot be proven. In addition, you should only have to replace things when they are really necessary and – such as with printer cartridges – you should not be asked to do so beforehand.

Warranty information will also need to be more clearly visible and a new, consistent label will be introduced to better highlight extended warranty products. According to the EU Parliament, 60 percent of European consumers do not know that all products in the EU have a two-year warranty.

Lemke sees positive effects for consumers

Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke welcomed the decision. More and more people want to make a contribution to more environmental and climate protection, but are being misled by questionable environmental promises. “With the new rules, consumers in the EU will be able to rely better on this information in the future,” said the Green politician. In addition, it is not only good for the environment, but also for the wallet if products are used for longer.

Negotiators from the European Parliament and the EU countries had previously agreed on this step. The member states still have to agree for the law to finally come into force. But that is considered a formality. The EU states then have two years to implement the directive into national law.

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