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Sustainable products: "It will be a small revolution for consumers"

, Станимир Петков (Клуб на инвалидите - Сливен)

Излъчване: Tuida News | European Community | преди 2 месеца | 176

Biljana Borzan during the In Focus interview on empowering consumers

It’s time for industry to play its part in ending throw-away consumption, says MEP Biljana Borzan.

Borzan (S&D, Croatia) sits on the consumer protection committee and is leading Parliament’s work on new rules to help consumers make environmentally-friendly choices and push companies to offer longer-lasting products. Check how this will make a difference for you in her interview with Parliament’s Youtube channel:

The European Parliament is working on several new initiatives related to consumer protection. You are leading talks on the update of banned commercial practices. What does Parliament want to see included in the new legislation?

I am quite proud of this work because I believe that in the end it will be a small revolution for consumers. We want to protect consumers, but also have responsible and progressive industries. We want to ban all practices and claims that are not based on excellent environmental performance and claims based on offsetting, because that's extremely misleading. We want to ban early obsolescence of products. And we want to be sure that products are repairable.

Why is this update necessary?

There are millions of different labels on products: eco-friendly, natural... We want to ensure that when a consumer sees a label like that, that this really is an environmentally-friendly product. Producers are smart. They know that consumers are increasingly aware of the importance of a clean environment and of our goals in the green transition, and that they are ready to pay a little bit more if they are sure that a product is really eco-friendly. Unfortunately, sometimes there is nothing behind that kind of claim. We want to put order into this jungle of labels so that consumers will have confidence that when they buy something it really is eco-friendly.

You consulted industry on these new rules. What do they think, are they on-board?

I think that they are aware that things have to change. And it is very good that we want to help those who are doing business in an environmentally friendly way and are not able to present themselves in the right way because there are lots of false claims.

Does the update of the list of banned commercial practices go in the same direction as the right to repair legislation, which is finally in the making?

Let's say these two files have the same aim. We want to make refurbishment possible [to move away from the throwaway economy]. Now products are affordable and spare parts are sometimes pricey. Consumers decide to buy a new product because if you, for example, call a service and they say that the spare part costs 60% of the price of a whole product you will start to think “well, maybe in a few months or a few weeks I will have a new problem....”, so people decide to buy new and discard the product, which could perhaps have been easily repaired.

Why is it so expensive to fix a product when it breaks down?

I don't want to be a promoter of conspiracy theories, but it seems like there is a whole system that makes us buy new products. When you ask producers why they do this, they say it’s because consumers always want a new design. I can understand that if we are talking about, for example, women's shoes. But I'm not sure that anybody bought a washing machine because a new design is on the market.

The number of repair shops is declining every year. In smaller EU cities it's sometimes impossible to find original spare parts. And the price of spare parts is too high. The whole system works so that consumers are forced to buy a new product because it's impossible to repair. Even though more than 70% would prefer to repair than to buy a new product.

How can you ensure that the prices of parts will go down?

I think that everybody understands the current way of doing things is not sustainable. (...) If industry sees the possibility of profit from producing spare parts, I think that we can all be satisfied. And the environment is going to be improved.