This week the EU has adopted new laws to ensure products placed on the market from 2021 are not only easier to repair and recycle, but also use less energy.
The new measure announced by the European Commission will impact products such as refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, lighting, monitors and televisions and include requirements for repairability and recyclability for the first time. This is to ensure an improvement in the product life span, maintenance, re-use, upgrade, recyclability and waste handling.
The new energy efficiency requirements alone will help to save around 5% of annual EU energy consumption, providing an estimated saving of €20 billion for both consumer and business energy bills. Along with new energy labels adopted in March, it is estimated that European households could each save up to €150 per year.
The repairability requirement meanwhile is anticipated to reduce demand for new products, cutting the impact and carbon emissions linked to manufacturing, distributing, using and disposing of new products.
Product manufacturers will be required to make sure that their products can be disassembled with common tools and that spare parts are readily available to professional repairers for a number of years. Additionally, manufacturers will also be required to remove halogenated flame retardants from displays.
A key element in the fight against climate change
European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, commented “Together with smarter energy labels, our eco-design measures can save European consumers a lot of money, as well as help the EU reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.”
“Eco-design is therefore a key element in the fight against climate change and a direct contribution to meeting the goals set in the Paris Agreement. As we move towards our long-term goal of a fully decarbonised EU by 2050, our energy efficiency and eco-design strategy will become ever more important”.
Meanwhile the Director general of BEUC, the European Consumer Association, Monique Goyens, commented “The new repair requirements will help improve the lifetime of everyday appliances that currently fail too quickly. It is crucial we bin the current ‘throwaway' trend, which depletes natural resources and empties consumers' pockets.”
“It is excellent news that consumers' health will be better protected, thanks to fewer flickering light bulbs and the removal of harmful flame retardants in TV screens. The EU has started with five products that most consumers own at home and we strongly encourage legislators to make more product categories repairable.”
Promises to meet or exceed EU standards
It is worth noting that the UK government has previously voted in favour of these standards. The Resources and Waste Strategy released in December 2018 also included promises that the UK will meet or exceed EU standards on resource efficiency, but the extent to which this is honoured remains to be seen.
Regardless of whether the UK follows suit with similar legislation, producers selling goods into the EU will need to ensure they conform with the new law.
You can take a look at our thoughts on the reforms needed in the UK by reading our submission to the Environmental Audit Committee. If you are a UK producer selling into the EU, you can find out more about international compliance here.
Marketing projects specialist
Ben joined the team at the beginning of 2015 and helps drive marketing communications and projects for Ecosurety, including project managing the launch of the Ecosurety Exploration Fund and website content development.