EU Green Deal: How it will change the sports and outdoor industry

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The EU's Green Deal promises climate neutrality by 2050, and in order to implement it, the sports and outdoor industry will have to change decisively. But for most of us, the regulations, ordinances and directives of the EU are a jungle of paragraphs and quite opaque. We provide an overview of the most important regulations.

Consumers influence the market with every purchase decision. That is certainly true. But if consumers were to consider the climate and environmental impacts of every product they buy down to the last detail, they would not get very far. Too many aspects flow into the climate and environmental balance of a product, and the manufacturing process and the entire life cycle of a product are too opaque.

Of course, there are ways to identify environmentally harmful products. Some brands set their sustainability standards much higher than others, certificates show origin or environmental balances. In the end, however, consumers must have confidence if they want to make more sustainable purchasing decisions. This is why politics is called upon more than ever to moderate the fight against the climate crisis with rules, laws and regulations.

Circular economy as a possible way out

The EU Green Deal is the most important building block for this in the European Union. The ambitious plan envisages climate neutrality by 2050. At the same time, it is intended to promote economic growth. In order to implement the EU Green Deal, there are many pieces of legislation that are coming into force, being adapted or are currently being drafted. Here, many elements that promote the Circular Economy can be found.

"For any brand - European or not - that wants to sell its products in the EU, many laws will matter. And they will probably be more ambitious and come into force much sooner than most people think," says Pascale Moreau, founder of Ohana Public Affairs. The Brussels-based consulting agency focuses on sustainability regulations and their impact on businesses.

Numerous pieces of legislation are becoming important for the sports and outdoor industries, especially textiles, and some are already being implemented. Moreau divides them into the three areas of company, product and consumer communication.

These are the most important laws or legislative proposals

In the area of companies

  1. Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive: EU Commission's proposed directive on corporate sustainability due diligence.
  2. EU Taxonomy: designed to guide investments that support the transition to a green and sustainable European economy.
  3. Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD): EU directive on corporate sustainability reporting.

In the area of product

  1. Eco Design for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR): designed to help ensure that the majority of products available on the EU market in the future have a lower environmental impact throughout their life cycle.
  2. Revision of the EU Chemical Framework: This aims to better protect citizens and the environment and promote innovation for safe and sustainable chemicals.
  3. Proposal to restrict PFAS (and other substances).
  4. Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation: with this, the European Commission aims to ensure that all packaging in the EU is reusable or recyclable in an economically viable way by 2030.
  5. Digital Product Passport (part of the ESPR): It is intended to provide information on components, materials and chemical substances, or information on the repairability, spare parts and proper disposal of a product.
  6. EU regulation banning products manufactured with forced labor.
  7. Deforestation Regulation: EU regulation designed to ensure that products consumed by EU citizens do not contribute to global deforestation or damage to forests.
  8. Waste Framework Directive: It explains what waste is, how it must be recycled and reused.

In the area of communication

  1. Proposal for a directive to empower consumers for environmental change: This provides for consumers to engage in environmental change through better information and aims to protect against misinformation.
  2. Proposalfor a directive to ensure that environmental claims made by companies are substantiated, reliable and verifiable. In common parlance, this guideline is intended to prevent greenwashing.
  3. Methodology for the environmental footprint of products(PEF methodology).
  4. Revision of the regulation on the labeling of textiles: In the future, these should also contain information on sustainability and circular economy.

The sooner the better

The legislation is being developed and implemented step by step. Even if the details are not always clear until the actual implementation, those companies will have a competitive advantage that deal with the regulations important to them at an early stage and adapt their corporate strategy, communication and product development accordingly. Many companies, especially from the outdoor industry, can be seen as pioneers here.

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