Parliament has granted final approval to a directive aimed at enhancing product labelling standards and prohibiting the use of deceptive environmental assertions. The directive, which garnered 593 votes in favour, 21 against, and 14 abstentions, is designed to safeguard consumers from deceptive marketing practices and empower them to make more informed purchasing decisions. The EU has expanded its list of proscribed commercial practices to address problematic marketing behaviours such as greenwashing and the premature obsolescence of products.

Crucially, the newly approved regulations aspire to enhance the transparency and reliability of product labelling by prohibiting the utilization of generic environmental claims, including terms like "environmentally friendly," "natural," "biodegradable," "climate neutral," or "eco" without substantiating evidence. The oversight of sustainability labels will also be formalized to counteract confusion arising from their proliferation and the lack of comparative data. Moving forward, only sustainability labels grounded in official certification schemes or established by public authorities will be permitted within the EU.

Furthermore, the directive aims to prohibit assertions that a product has a neutral, reduced, or positive environmental impact due to emissions offsetting schemes. An additional pivotal objective of the legislation is to redirect the focus of both producers and consumers towards the durability of goods. The legislation stipulates that guarantee information must be more prominently displayed, and a standardized label will be introduced to highlight products with extended guarantee periods.

The new regulations additionally proscribe unwarranted claims of durability, such as falsely asserting that a washing machine will endure 5,000 washing cycles under normal conditions. They also address the premature replacement of consumables, as often observed in products like printer ink, and the misleading presentation of goods as repairable when, in reality, they are not.

Parliament’s rapporteur Biljana Borzan (S&D, HR) emphasized the transformative impact of the legislation, stating: “This law will change the everyday lives of all Europeans. We will step away from throwaway culture, make marketing more transparent and fight premature obsolescence of goods. 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. This is a big win for all of us!”