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New obligations to inform consumers

The Anti-Wastage & Circular Economy Law requires greater transparency vis-à-vis the consumer

28/02/2020

A circular economy necessarily requires greater transparency vis-à-vis the consumer. To this end, the Anti-Wastage & Circular Economy Law imposes on companies numerous new obligations intended to better inform consumers about the environmental characteristics of products, their recyclability as well as their repairability.

Information on environmental qualities and characteristics

Compulsory information on the environmental qualities and characteristics of waste-generating products

There is an obligation to inform consumers about the environmental qualities and characteristics of waste-generating products, in particular by marking, labelling or display. This information must be visible or accessible electronically by the consumer at the time of purchase.

These include: the incorporation of recycled material, the use of renewable resources, the durability, compostability, repairability, possibilities for reuse, recyclability and the presence of dangerous substances, precious metals or rare earths.

In this context, consumers must also be informed of any adjustment in the eco-contribution paid by the producer (premium or penalty) according to environmental performance criteria.

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Read more: Reinforcement and extension of the extended producer responsibility (EPR)

Compulsory warnings ("do not discard in the wild") or prohibited ones ("biodegradable" or "environmentally friendly") are also provided for, on products and packaging, in particular those made of plastic.

For any product presented as "recycled", the percentage of recycled material actually incorporated must be indicated.

These obligations will be specified by decree for entry into force on 1 January 2022.

Optional information on the environmental characteristics or compliance with social criteria of a good or a service or a category of goods or services

An optional environmental or social display system based mainly on the analysis of the life cycle of the product is established. Its use is intended to be supervised, both in terms of its form and modalities, by decree, after an 18-month experiment. It is foreseen to make it compulsory, primarily for the clothing/textiles sector.

Specific obligations to inform

Specific obligations to inform are also planned, from 1 January 2022, with regard to endocrine disrupters (Article L. 5232-5 of the Public Health Code) and greenhouse gases linked to Internet use (Article 6 of law no. 2004-575 for confidence in the digital economy).

Information on the repairability and durability of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE)

It will become compulsory from 1 January 2021, for producers and distributors of EEE, to communicate the repairability rating of EEE, free of charge, to the sellers of these products as well as to any person who requests it, together with the parameters used to establish it.

Sellers of EEE, including online sellers and platforms, must pass this information on to the consumer at the time of purchase, free of charge. It must also be made available online.

From 1 January 2024, a product durability rating (including in particular the reliability and robustness of the product) will supplement or replace the repairability rating.

The details of the modalities for establishing these ratings, as well as the list of products and equipment concerned, will be specified by decree.

Reinforcement of consumer information on sorting rules via the Triman logo

The affixing of the Triman logo will be extended to all household products put on the market subject to the principle of extended producer responsibility, excluding packaging for glass beverages.

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Read more: Reinforcement and extension of the extended producer responsibility (EPR)

This signage must be accompanied by information specifying guidelines for sorting the waste generated by the product. These guidelines must be detailed item by item if the resulting waste needs to be sorted separately.

The information must appear primarily on the product or its packaging or, failing this, in the other documents supplied with the product, and be available online. This new obligation will be specified by decree, for entry into force on 1 January 2022.

Note that many producers already affix this Triman logo because this obligation currently concerns product packaging (although, according to a strict reading of the legislation, it appears possible to put this logo on the website only for example).

In addition, the eco-contribution due for waste management may be subject to a penalty in the event of the use of signage and markings which could lead to confusion regarding the way to  sort or dispose of the waste (Article L. 541-10-3 of the Environmental Code).

Reinforcement of information on the availability (or not) of spare parts

Under the pre-contractual obligation to inform, information must be given to the reseller on the availability of spare parts essential for the use of movable goods and, if applicable, on the duration or date until which these parts are available.

For EEE and furniture items, spare parts essential to the use of the good are deemed to be unavailable unless information is provided to the professional reseller.

A mandatory minimum period of availability for spare parts will be imposed for certain goods (electrical appliances, small IT equipment, etc.).

The Anti-Wastage & Circular Economy Law encourages repairers to use parts from the circular economy and even provides for a scenario in which the spare part can be manufactured by 3D printing.

Similarly, the Anti-Wastage & Circular Economy Law imposes that information be cascaded to the consumer on the updates necessary to maintain the conformity of goods containing digital elements (Article L. 217-21 et seq. of the Consumer Code). It also announces future work on "software obsolescence".

Reinforcement of information on the legal guarantee of conformity 

For certain categories of goods, fixed by decree, a "billing document" must be given to the consumer and mention the existence and duration of the legal guarantee of conformity. This obligation deserves to be explained as currently the issuing of an invoice for the sale of goods or the provision of services to the consumer is not mandatory (only a receipt has to be drawn up in the latter case).

Protection under the legal guarantee of conformity is also reinforced for new goods, as well as for second-hand goods (six-month warranty extension for goods repaired in this context, extension of the presumed existence of the lack of conformity from 6 to 12 months for second-hand goods, etc.).

New business practice deemed to be misleading

Finally, we note the extension of the list of business practices deemed to be misleading (Article L. 121-4, 23 ° of the Consumer Code) to the practice consisting, in an advertisement, of giving the impression that the consumer is getting a price reduction comparable to that in sales outside their legal period. This new provision could be considered to be contrary to European Union law which establishes a restrictive list of practices deemed to be misleading in all circumstances (Directive 2005/29/EC).

 


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Anti-Wastage and Circular Economy Law

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