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Position paper - Empowering consumers for the green transition

19 Oct 2022
Consumer affairs

The European Commission's proposal for a directive empowering consumers for the green transition is a welcome initiative that supports the goal of promoting sustainable consumption and protecting consumers from unfair business practices.  
To ensure that consumers are able to fully participate in the circular economy, policymakers should further improve the proposal by:
• Allowing companies to provide information to consumers digitally.
• Defining ‘common practice’.
• Not mandating third-party monitoring systems for future environmental performance claims.  
• Aligning  ‘third-party verification’ with the current definition of ‘verification’ outlined in the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14050:2009.  
• Revising the approach to ‘generic’ environmental claims by prohibiting vague and truly non-specific claims and allowing claims defined under international standards.  
• Ensuring  software  update  provisions  do  not  discourage  customers  from  updating  their software.
• Maintaining  support  for  industry  environmental  labels  that  fulfil  high  sustainability  criteria based on third-party verification.  
• Not considering as prohibited ‘per-se’ bans in Annex I but rather subject these to a ‘case-by-case’ assessment to determine whether certain conduct is misleading:
    - Omitting  to  inform  a  consumer  that  a  software  update  negatively  impacts  the products or that a good is designed with limited functionality when using non-original consumables.  
    - Inducing  the  consumer  to  replace  the  consumables  of  a  product  earlier  than  for technical reasons is necessary.
• Clarifying  that  the  restriction  proposed  to  be  added  as  point  23i  of  Annex  1  about  limited product functionality when using non-original consumables only applies to intentional effect, not unforeseen consequences.