As part of its legislative arsenal to combat climate change, the French government has now introduced the next stage of its anti-greenwashing legislation, effective January 1, 2023. The new rules are a major step in controlling advertising claims on carbon offsetting and carbon neutrality, following laws that came into effect in the summer of 2022.

Manufacturers and importers of products must now inform consumers about the environmental characteristics of their products sold in France, such as their durability, use of recycled materials, use of renewable resources, compostability, reparability, reusability and recyclability. Non-compliance with these regulations will be severely penalized.

The Climate and Resilience Law also provides for the introduction of mandatory environmental labeling of goods and services in certain sectors, such as apparel, food, and electronics, after an initial five-year trial period.

Certain environmental claims are banned altogether: For example, it is prohibited to use the terms “biodegradable” and “environmentally friendly” (or other equivalent terms) on a product or on product packaging as they are considered “global” claims in the sense that they do not refer to a specific environmental property (such as the recyclability of a product), but suggest a general benefit to the environment.

Other types of advertising claims are strictly regulated. For example, statements about the “recycled” nature of a product must indicate the percentage of recycled materials actually contained in the product.

  • The use of the term “compostable” and the phrase “do not throw into nature” are also subject to strict rules
  • Plastic products and packaging that can only be composted in an industrial facility may not be labeled as “compostable”
  • Plastic products and packaging that can be composted at home or at an industrial composting facility must be labeled “Do not throw into nature”