Transformation fields of the Digital Agenda

Nachhaltiger Konsum (2019)

Illustration Umweltpolitische Digitalagenda

Online-shopping round the clock, personalised advertising and tracking of purchases – digitalisation has an enormous influence on consumer behaviour. The task of environmental policy is therefore to encourage sustainable consumption with digital solutions and design digital markets to be more environmentally friendly. The retail sector needs to develop and implement environmentally compatible communication, information and marketing strategies. The key to enabling independent consumer choices is thus transparency and the introduction of a Digital Passport for products and services.

Enabling informed consumer choices

Digital solutions such as apps or digital assistance systems for the mass market should be designed to facilitate access to information about production, environmental impacts, composition, use, reparability and recyclability. Alternative products and services should also be made accessible.

Designing and regulating online retail and platforms

Online retail is growing rapidly. Here it is essential to make user-friendly information available to help consumers make sustainable purchasing decisions. One focus of the BMU is therefore the design and regulation of platforms, marketplaces and online retail.

Increasing market surveillance

The growth in online shopping has both direct and indirect environmental impacts: due to increasing transport volumes, logistics, packaging and returns. But also because products from non-EU countries are entering the European market, which do not have to comply with EU specifications, for example, in relation to prohibited substances.

Online sales will therefore be explicitly regulated in the EU's new Market Surveillance Regulation (fulfilment service provider). The BMU also advocates the introduction of an obligation to review, which would require the electronic marketplaces themselves to review and verify whether the products being sold are properly registered. Furthermore, efforts to combat illegal trade online in endangered and protected species will be stepped up.

Returns are not waste

It is estimated that several billion euros worth of functional goods are destroyed every year. The BMU wants to introduce a duty to exercise proper care into the Circular Economy Act. This would only allow excess inventory or returns to be destroyed when necessary, for example, for safety or health reasons.

Videos and music – no-guilt streaming

Between 2017 and 2022, global data traffic is expected to triple to around 400 billion gigabytes per month. Much of the traffic is generated by streaming videos in ever-higher quality. For this reason the BMU is not only pushing for more efficient data centres, but also for binding provisions on standard resolution, autoplay or the display of advertising videos with the aim of preventing unnecessarily high data rates without impairing use. 

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