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Commission proposes more fair and green consumer practices

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The European Commission adopted a series of Green Deal proposals today at their college meeting. The proposals focus on sustainable economic practices like ensuring that consumers know their rights and that products sold in the EU are sustainably constructed, repairable and recyclable. 

“It's time to end the model of ‘take, make, break, and throw away' that is so harmful to our planet, our health and our economy,” Executive Vice President of the Commission Frans Timmermans said. “This is how we bring balance back in our relationship with nature and reduce our vulnerability to disruptions in global supply chains.”

According to the new proposals, all products would have to have a Digital Product Passport. This passport would facilitate the repairing or recycling of components of a product as well as the tracking concerns within the supply chain. This proposal would extend the existing Ecodesign framework to include as many products as possible and increase the number of regulations to which products must comply. These regulations will include increased energy efficiency in construction, increased recyclability and overall more climate-efficient business practices.

The existing Ecodesign framework has been a work in progress since its first iteration in 2009. Those standards established ways for products produced and sold in the EU to be more environmentally friendly at all stages of its lifecycle. Since then, the standards to which products are held have improved to include more repairable products, more sustainable materials and more energy efficiency overall. 

The Commission also adopted the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles. The goal is to regulate textiles by making them more recyclable and long-lived, non-toxic and sustainably created by 2030. The proposal seeks to push “fast fashion” out of the EU marketplace. Fast fashion is when stores create cheap clothing to quickly adhere to the current style. Clothes manufactured for this purpose are often poorly made and designed to be defunct when the style changes. 

The final part of the Commission’s proposal was an update to the EU consumer rules. It would make information about how a product is constructed and how long it should last available to the consumer. The goal is to allow European consumers to make more informed decisions about the products they purchase. The proposal would also update the existing list of unfair commercial practices to include making vague environmental claims without facts, not informing about durability-limiting features and using a voluntary sustainability label not associated with independent review.

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