Recent publication of Directive 2024/825 on empowering consumers for the green transition


Following its adoption on 28 February 2024, the new Directive 2024/825[1] has now been published (the Directive). The adoption of the Directive aims at guiding and supporting consumers in engaging with the green transition.

The Directive followed a proposal  made by the European Commission in spring 2022 as part of the greater European Green Deal, with the objective of fighting increasing greenwashing risks for consumers through misleading environmental claims.

The Directive amends two existing directives, namely the unfair commercial practices directive (UCPD[2]) and the consumer rights directive (CRD[3]). It aims at (i) granting consumers access to additional information about the environmental impact of certain products and (ii) protecting them against misleading commercial practices on the sustainability features of such products.

Amendments to the UCPD focus on the fight against so-called generic environmental claims which are defined as “any environmental claim made in written or oral form, including through audiovisual media, that is not included on a sustainability label and where the specification of the claim is not provided in clear and prominent terms on the same medium”.

To this end, the Directive introduces specific environmental and sustainability features as a possible ground for misleading commercial practices:

  • Misleading commercial actions (Article 5 UCDP) which may be characterised (i) in relation to the main characteristics of a product which now include, inter alia, the “environmental or social characteristics, circularity aspects, such as durability, reparability or recyclability” and (ii) by making an environmental claim related to future environmental performance without clear, objective, publicly available and verifiable commitments set out in a detailed and realistic implementation plan, that is regularly verified by an independent third party expert, whose findings are made available to consumers, and (iii) by advertising benefits to consumers that are irrelevant and do not result from any feature of the product of business.
  • Information on environmental or social characteristics or on circularity aspects, such as durability, reparability or recyclability, of the product is considered “material” for the purpose of characterising a misleading omission (Article 6 UCDP).

Furthermore, the Directive includes the following actions as additional “commercial practices which are in all circumstances considered unfair”:

  1. the use of general environmental claims such as “environmentally friendly”, “green”, “natural,” “biodegradable,” “climate neutral,” or “eco” without substantiating evidence;
  2. environmental claims about an entire product or an entire company when it actually only relates to a specific aspect of a product or a specific activity of the company;
  3. claiming, based on the offsetting of greenhouse gas emissions, that a product has a neutral, reduced or positive impact on the environment in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and
  4. displaying labels that are not based on a certification scheme or not established by public authorities.

Regarding the enhancement of consumers rights, the Directive integrates, within the provisions of the CRD, the obligation to disclose to consumers information with respect to all types of goods on the existence of a commercial guarantee of durability of more than two years and on the reparability of products, through a reparability score, where available. A harmonised notice and harmonised label are also introduced to ensure that consumers are well informed and can easily understand their rights, and which shall be easily identifiable for consumers and easy to use and reproduce for traders.

The overarching goal of the amendments to the UCPD and CRD is to reinforce consumers' awareness and information regarding product durability and real sustainable impact as well as addressing misleading business practices related to future environmental performance claims.

These new requirements complement the proposal for the directive on the substantiation and communication of environmental claims (the Green Claims Directive), which is currently awaiting the European Parliament’s position in first reading. There is no doubt that the alignment of the two directives will be a crucial point in addressing current challenges related to green claims.

The Directive was published in the Official Journal on 6 March 2024 and will enter into force on 26 March 2024. Member States have until 27 March 2026 to transpose the measures contained in the Directive, which shall be binding as from 27 September 2026.

Please feel free to reach out to our CMS experts on ESG claims if you have any questions.

[1] Directive 2024/825 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 February 2024 amending Directives 2005/29/EC and 2011/83/EU as regards empowering consumers for the green transition through better protection against unfair practices and through better information.

[2] Directive 2005/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2005 concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market and amending Council Directive 84/450/EEC, Directives 97/7/EC, 98/27/EC and 2002/65/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council (‘Unfair Commercial Practices Directive’).

[3] Directive 2011/83/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on consumer rights, amending Council Directive 93/13/EEC and Directive 1999/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Council Directive 85/577/EEC and Directive 97/7/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council.