Over the last years, the European Union has been putting particular importance on sustainability. The most ambitious goal is to reach climate neutrality by 2050 and an entirely circular economy by 2030. Additionally, at the end of March 2022, the European Commission proposed to update the consumer rules to boost the green transition.
How consumers can become more environmentally conscious
The Commission argues that consumers should be properly informed when choosing what they buy. In these terms, the Commission proposed to amend the Consumer Rights Directive. To help them make more sustainable purchases, two main points consumers should be advised about are durability, and repairs and updates of the goods before they purchase them:
- Durability – Consumers must know how long a certain product is granted to last. Specifically, consumers should be informed if a product has a granted durability of more than two years. For energy-using goods, sellers must also inform the consumers in case there is no information available on the minimum granted durability.
- Repairs and updates – Consumers must know if the products they are purchasing can be repaired or, in the case of digital and smart devices, updated. Additionally, the sellers must specify the availability of spare parts or a repair manual.
Ban on misleading social and environmental claims
Greenwashing is the practice adopted by companies giving a false impression of their environmental impact. To avoid misleading statements, the Commission proposed several updates to the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. The amendments foresee a ban on misleading claims on social and environmental impact as well as on durability and reparability of the products. Specifically, the following practices will be considered unfair:
- Not informing about features introduced to limit durability
- Making vague environmental claims (Examples of such generic environmental claims are ‘environmentally friendly’, ‘eco’ or ‘green’, which wrongly suggest or create the impression of excellent environmental performance (EC, 2022).
- Making an environmental claim about an entire product, while it concerns only a part of it
- Showing a voluntary sustainability label not provided by a third party that verified it
- Not informing about the limited functionality of a product when using parts or accessories from a third producer
The European Commission proposal for the new Directive still needs to be adopted by the Council and the European Parliament, and then transposed into national legislation to become law.
Cosmetic industry toward green transition
The European Green Deal will significantly change business models and transform the EU into a resource-efficient and competent economy. Among the many sectors impacted, cosmetics will also have to play its role in the green transition. In particular, the Cosmetics Regulation might have to ensure better protection against harmful chemicals. In this sense, the cosmetics industry might have to take into account protecting not only human health but also the environment. Indeed, at the end of March 2022, the public consultation on the targeted revision of the EU Cosmetics Regulation opened and will close on June 20, 2022.
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Expert Consultant, Publications Department
European Commission. (2022). Circular Economy: Commission proposes new consumer rights and a ban on greenwashing. Retrieved on 05/05/2022 from: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_2098
European Commission. (2019). A European Green Deal. Retrieved on 05/05/2022 from: https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/european-green-deal_en