The Digital Services Act represents a very good opportunity to bring sustainability into the digital debate, in line with the European Green Deal. EucoLight, Eucobat and EXPRA therefore welcome the reference to sustainability in the IMCO report led by MEP Saliba and would like to share some additional recommendations.
Still, for the sustainability angle in the Digital Service Act to be comprehensive, it should include both provisions on providing clear information to consumers and ensuring that producers contribute financially to the costs of waste management.
The Parliament’s report, adopted on October 20, includes wording on “fighting false ‘environmental claims’ while calling on online marketplaces to promote sustainability of e-commerce by providing consumers with clear and easily understandable information on the environmental impact of the products. We strongly believe that information on meeting the Extended Producer Responsibility obligations regarding packaging, WEEE and other product-related waste streams and delivery methods or services they buy online should be added to complete the ambition on information to consumers.
A reference to ensure that online platforms take responsibility for the end of life of products and their packaging is of crucial importance to address sustainability in a comprehensive manner thus decreasing and eliminating “free riding”. Free-riding describes the process whereby companies placing products on the market circumvent Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) obligations, including registering with EPR schemes and financing their products’ end-of-life management.
In the Netherlands alone, the value of goods ordered from abroad by consumers online increased by 15% between 2017 and 2018, to €880 million for instance, a figure that has likely been further boosted due to the COVID 19 lockdown period. As an extremely high number of products from different product categories bought online do not comply with national requirements for financing the treatment of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), we see a clear need for harmonised action at EU level to ensure that producers placing products on the market are made responsible for their collection and reprocessing costs.
We hope that the Commission will seize the opportunity to include such elements in its upcoming proposal. As online sales will continue to grow, notably due to the pandemic, the issue is of the utmost importance. As President von der Leyen has stated on several occasions, all sectors should contribute to the Green Deal objectives, and the online sales sector is just too important not to play its part.