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European Parliament in-depth analysis on Sustainable Consumption and Consumer Protection Legislation

This In-Depth Analysis on "Sustainable Consumption and Consumer Protection Legislation", authored by Bert Keirsbilck, Evelyne Terryn, Anaïs Michel (KU Leuven) and Ivano Alogna (BIICL), was commissioned by Policy Department A at the request of the European Parliament's Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO), in order to provide the Members of the European Parliament with evidence and recommendations for the own-initiative report entitled "Towards a more sustainable single market for businesses and consumers".

The objectives of this in-depth analysis are to provide: (i) an analysis of the contribution, or lack of contribution, of the current EU consumer protection legislation to a sustainable consumption and a longer lifetime of products; (ii) an overview of the most relevant best practices at national and international level; (iii) recommendations on the future development and possible reforms of European consumer protection legislation in order to contribute to a more sustainable consumption and a longer lifetime of products.

As to the design and production stage, this in-depth analysis proposes to: (i) develop more ecodesign requirements on material efficiency aspects; (ii) adopt ecodesign requirements for a wider range of energy-related products, and further investigate the possibility to apply ecodesign requirements to other consumer products with an important environmental impact; (iii) review the Ecodesign Directive so as to make sure that it fits neatly within the new EU Circular Economy Action Plan; (iv) step-up market surveillance activities on ecodesign requirements; (v) further develop standards on durability and resource efficiency.

As to the marketing and precontractual stage, this in-depth analysis proposes to: (i) review and reinforce the Ecolabel Directive so as to make sure that it fits neatly within the new EU Circular Economy Action Plan and further investigate an extension of the system to services; (ii) blacklist "greenwashing" through the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive ("UCPD") and require the use of the Product/Organisation Environmental Footprint ("PEF"/"OEF") methods to substantiate green claims; (iii) blacklist the most blatant cases of premature obsolescence in the UCPD; (iv) update the UCPD Guidance document through the lens of the new EU Circular Economy Action Plan; (v) include durability and repairability information in the list of mandatory precontractual information (Consumer Rights Directive ["CRD"]) or alternatively develop durability and repairability information requirements under the Energy Labelling Regulation (EU) 2017/1369; (vi) introduce an obligation to provide information on the availability of spare parts and/or require the supply of spare parts from producers and importers.

As to the contractual stage, this in-depth analysis proposes to: (i) link the guarantee period to the average expected lifetime of goods; (ii) stimulate the offering of a commercial lifespan guarantee; (iii) make the hierarchy of remedies under the Sale of Goods Directive 2019 more sustainable; (iv) ensure access to repair and maintenance information; (v) explore the possibilities of mandatory European legislation on product service systems ("PSS")/services contracts and explore the possibilities of standardisation and/or the development of standard contracts for PSS; (vi) make e-commerce greener by stimulating sustainable delivery and return options, by investigating the possibilities to limit or even prohibit free returns, etc.; (vii) step-up market surveillance activities to ensure that both European and imported products comply with EU consumer contract law requirements.

As to the waste stage, this in-depth analysis proposes to: (i) refine the waste management hierarchy so as to make sure that it is truly in line with the new EU Circular Economy Action Plan; (ii) fine-tune and narrow the definition of "waste" so that waste legislation is more compatible with the objectives of circular economy and sustainable consumption; (iii) broaden and strengthen the extended producer responsibility, and further investigate the effect of modulation of the financial contribution to producer responsibility organisations ("PROs").

Download the report here.

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