Commission proposes new Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation
On March 30, 2022, the Commission published a new legislative proposal for a Regulation on new Ecodesign requirements applicable to most categories of tangible goods on the EU market. Building upon the current Ecodesign Directive 2009/125/EC, the new proposal aims at reducing the life cycle environmental impacts of products sold in the EU. To do so, the expected Ecodesign Regulation will enlarge the Directive’s scope of application and also set new requirements on the basis of sustainability and circularity parameters. The latter factors draw from the sustainability and circularity aspects stated in the Circular Economy Action Plan. In particular, the new Ecodesign Regulation proposal underlines factors such as:
- product durability;
- product reusability;
- product upgradability and reparability;
- the presence of substances of concern in products;
- product energy and resource efficiency;
- recycled content of products;
- product remanufacturing and high-quality recycling; and
- products’ carbon and environmental footprints.
Which products are affected by this proposal?
As stated in its explanatory memorandum, this Regulation will only apply to products not covered by existing legislation or "when legislation does not sufficiently address the sustainability of those products" (EC, 2022). Thus, as an example, some requirements will be stated in specific Regulations, as in the case of construction products. Furthermore, as stated in Article 1, this Regulation will not apply to, among others:
- food as defined in Regulation (EC) No 178/2002;
- feed as defined in Article 3(4) of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002;
- medicinal products for human use as defined in Article 1(2) of Directive 2001/83/EC;
- veterinary medicinal products as defined in Article 4(1) of Regulation (EU) 2019/6;
- living plants, animals and micro-organisms;
- products of human origin;
- products of plants and animals relating directly to their future reproduction;
As such, the draft Regulation's basis will be the framework stated under the Market Surveillance Regulation. Moreover, the Energy Labelling Regulation will continue to apply in parallel to this Regulation for energy-related products.
Most importantly, the Commission proposes also to demand the manufacturers supply specific information on the products’ environmental sustainability in the form of a new “Digital Product Passport”. According to the Proposal, this new Digital Product Passport aims at bringing more awareness to consumers and businesses on how a product’s life cycle impacts the environment. Additionally, the Passport would also facilitate repairs and correct recycling for consumers and help public authorities better perform market checks and controls.
In addition to the objectives mentioned above, the Commission has justified the proposal with the need to enlarge the scope of application of the current Ecodesign Directive, which applies only to energy-related products. Notwithstanding the Directive’s narrow scope of application covering 31 product groups, in 2021 alone, the current ecodesign legislation prevented EU consumers from spending EUR 120 billion in energy expenditure. The impact of the current legislation was also substantial in terms of energy consumption, leading to a 10% annual energy consumption by the goods included in the 31 concerned product groups. With the introduction of the new Ecodesign Regulation, the EU expects to save around 132 meters of primary energy, namely 150 billion cubic meters of natural gas.
It is worth emphasizing that the proposal for a Regulation on Ecodesign requirements for Sustainable Products is still not a definitive draft. Therefore, future changes are to be expected.
In any case, the current legislative framework establishes a continuous and regular updating of the amendments to be prioritised on Ecodesign and energy labelling matters. The Ecodesign and energy labelling working plan 2022-2024 not only builds upon the first Ecodesign Directive implementation and aftermath but also accounts for the work established by the Energy Labelling Framework Regulation (EU/2017/1369)and the progress made with the European Product Registry for Energy Labelling (EPREL). As such, it is yet to be fully understood which implications will the working plan 2022-2024 bring upon manufacturers and European consumers in the near future.
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European Commission. (2022) European Product Registry for Energy Labelling. Retrieved on 05/10/2022.
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