The "Anti-waste for a circular economy" (AGEC) law adopted on February 10, 2020 introduced new measures aiming to build a more sustainable model for society.
Since its publication, many decrees with a direct impact on the daily lives of French people have been published, including an important decree on consumer information in recent weeks.
Decree no. 2022-748 of April 29, 2022 on “Consumer information on the environmental qualities and characteristics of waste-generating products”, implementing article L. 541-9-1 of the French environment code (article 13 I of the AGEC law), now provides a framework for the environmental claims made by producers and makes it mandatory to inform consumers about certain environmental characteristics of purchased products.
Information on the environmental qualities and characteristics of products
The measures taken regarding better information of consumers represent one of the main aspects of the AGEC law. Such measures aim to change the production methods of companies and the consumption patterns of consumers.
Producers are therefore required to be more transparent regarding the environmental impact and durability of their products, a transparency obligation which makes companies more accountable for the quality of their products.
This awaited decree defines the different environmental characteristics, lists which information should be made available to consumers, the categories of products concerned as well as the methods of making the information available:
- Producers and importers who declare an annual turnover of more than 10 million euros for the categories of products concerned that they place on the national market and who place more than 10 000 units of these products on the market each year are subject to this information obligation.
- This information will be given in the form of a product sheet of environmental qualities and characteristics, in dematerialised form, available at the time of purchase.
- This dematerialised display system will allow the consumer to know, depending on the categories of products, their proportion of recycled material, the use of renewable resources, their recyclability, the presence of dangerous substances, precious metals or rare earths, their compostability, reparability, reusability, traceability, and the presence of plastic microfibers.
However, it must be kept in mind that the obligation to inform consumers about an environmental quality of a product is different from the obligation attached to the characteristic. For example, the obligation to inform consumers about the incorporation of recycled material is different from the obligation to incorporate a minimum amount of recycled material into packaging.
The prohibition to use environmental claims
In addition to the information requirement, article R. 541-223 of the decree specified the prohibition provided for by article L. 541-9-1 on the use, for any product or packaging, of the claim "biodegradable", "environmentally friendly" or any other similar claim.
The implementing measures and the transitional periods
As for the implementation of the decree, several transitional periods apply.
The obligation to inform consumers:
The decree provides for a gradual entry into force for producers as of January 1, 2023, according to their annual turnover and quantity of units of products placed on the national market (articles R. 541-220 to R. 541-222).
The information obligation regarding environmental characteristics of purchased products apply:
- As of 1 January 2023, to producers with an annual turnover of more than 50 million euros and at least 25,000 units of products placed on the national market each year.
- As of 1 January 2024, to producers with an annual turnover of more than 20 million euros and at least 10,000 units of products placed on the national market each year.
- As of 1 January 2025, to producers, with an annual turnover of more than 10 million euros and at least 10,000 units of products placed on the national market each year.
The prohibition of environmental claims:
The prohibition of environmental claims provided for by article R. 541-223 of the decree came into force on April 30, 2022. The products or packaging to which it applies benefit from a delay of sale of stocks until 1 January 2023, provided that they were manufactured or imported before the date of publication of the decree.