Consumer information is not limited to prices, promotions or the right of withdrawal. It also includes the environmental quality of the product and its “repairability”. Are spare parts available and for how long? Is it recyclable? Does it contain rare materials or hazardous substances? So much data likely to influence consumers.
Environmental quality: France ahead
To encourage more responsible, less polluting consumption, France imposes new obligations on manufacturers, importers and distributors. From 1er January 2023 and gradually by 2025, all companies that sell 10,000 copies of the same product on the French market for a turnover of more than 10 million euros will have to communicate a certain amount of environmental information in store and online.
Before purchasing, consumers will be able to know if the products and/or packaging are “mainly recyclable”. If 95% of the object’s waste at the end of its life can be recycled, producers can add the words “fully recyclable product”. The ease of collecting waste, its ability to be sorted and its reuse are 3 of the 5 criteria taken into account to determine the “recyclability” of an object.
Car manufacturers will also have to indicate the precious materials and rare earths necessary for the manufacture of vehicles and whose extraction is polluting. As for companies in the textile sector, they must mention the places and methods of making clothes and shoes and, where applicable, the presence of plastic microfibers.
Already imposed for smartphones, televisions, computers, washing machines and lawn mowers, the colored and numbered pictogram from 1 to 10 of the repairability index will be extended to many more electrical and electronic equipment. And even this fall for vacuum cleaners and dishwashers.
Germany at European minimum
In the absence of a repairability index, Germany has complied with European legislation on eco-design. As in the other member countries, companies on the German market must, for example, display the energy performance of refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers and even televisions. And make available on the internet a list of spare parts available.
Discussions are underway to improve information on the environmental quality of a product, but no new measures have been decided.
Towards a right to reparation in Europe?
The European Union wants to encourage consumers to do more to repair faulty products. A right to reparation is in preparation. It would require producers and sellers to provide very clear information about an object’s “repairability rate”, its estimated lifespan, and the availability of spare parts and software updates. New labeling in the form of QR Code or digital passport could also be developed.
More information on the European Consumer Center website, www.cec-zev.eu