EU enhances consumer rights by banning eco-generic claims and early obsolescence | Fieldfisher
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EU enhances consumer rights by banning eco-generic claims and early obsolescence



The EU legislature recently adopted a new Directive aiming to empower consumers through better protection against unfair practices, and more transparent and clearer information on labels. N.B. This is not the Green Claims Directive, which is still being discussed by the EU institutions.

High-level: it applies in the B2C channel to voluntary environmental claims (i.e. not claims required by specific product laws) and essentially bans generic environmental claims, while seriously curtailing the use of sustainability labels and severely restricting early obsolescence.

It is not a stand-alone Directive, but makes changes to 2 existing Directives:

1) Directive 2005/29/EC on unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market (UCPD); and

2) Directive 2011/83/EU on consumer rights (CRD).

Member States have until 27 March 2026 to transpose these changes into national law and they can begin applying these changes from 27 September 2026.

The key changes in more detail:

  1. No more vague or misleading environmental claims such as ‘eco-friendly’, ‘natural’, ‘biodegradable’ or ‘green’, unless the trader can demonstrate recognised excellent environmental performance.
  2. No more claims that a product has no negative, low or positive impact on the environment because of carbon offsetting schemes, such as ‘carbon neutral’.
  3. Any environmental claim related to future environmental performance must be backed up with clear, objective, publicly available and verifiable commitments set out in a detailed and realistic implementation plan.
  4. Only sustainability labels that are based on official certification schemes or established by public authorities will be allowed in the EU, to avoid confusion and inconsistency among different labels.
  5. Format: introduction of a harmonised notice (info on the legal guarantee of conformity) and a harmonised label (info on the durability) so that consumers can easily recognise these concepts.
  6. Any competitor product comparisons on environmental, social or circularity aspects, must inform the consumer of the method of comparison, the products which are the object of comparison and the suppliers of those products, etc.
  7. Banning certain practices associated with early obsolescence, such as:
  • Making false or exaggerated claims about how long a product will last (for example, saying that a product will last longer than it will, if this is not true under normal conditions).
  • Making software updates seem mandatory when they only add features or improve functionality.
  • Making consumers replace consumables sooner than needed for technical reasons.
  • Hiding or lying about the effect of using consumables, spare parts or accessories not supplied by the original producer on the performance of a good.

What are the implications for businesses' advertising methods?

•Companies will have to be very careful when conducting their own internal compliance checks on their "green" claims as the claims' framework has become much stricter.

• Avoidance of the banned "blacklisted claims", in the amened Annex I of the UCPD, is key.

• Early obsolescence should be avoided.

• In sum, companies will have to exercise greater caution around their green marketing claims and will have to conduct their internal due diligence more carefully.

• Even though realistically some of these changes will only start to bite once Member State apply the measures from 27 September 2026, the interim period provides an opportunity for companies to "get ahead of the pack" and already align with the higher degree of scrutiny demanded by these upcoming changes. The separate but related ongoing proposal for a Green Claims Directive, if adopted, should also form part of any such strategic project.

What potential legal challenges could the new amendments bring about?

  • Given the breadth and ambition of this Directive, there will certainly be questions of interpretation that in-house Counsel will already be posing themselves. These questions may only be ultimately resolved once there is a new set of guidance materials, authority decisions, and case law on which to base compliance efforts. But knowledge of past cases, national guidance, etc will all inform the discussion.
  • Companies may find themselves subject to class action-style litigation under Directive (EU) 2020/1828 given that the UCPD is in scope and that many consumer groups have been vocal about early obsolescence and green washing.

Will companies outside the EU that market products in the EU have to comply with the new amendments?

Yes. Every product or service to be marketed in the EU in a B2C setting will fall within the scope of the new amendments.


prepared with the assistance of Andreas Ameed Fadoul


Feel free to reach out to us should you have any questions on the above, especially if your company has an eye on revamping its practices and claims EU-wide.