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EU to expand ecodesign rules

The European Commission has promised more action to ensure products are durable, repairable and recyclable and is facing growing pressure to introduce stronger rules on product design.

The European Commission has promised more action to ensure products are durable, repairable and recyclable and is facing growing pressure to introduce stronger rules on product design.

Under new plans, the European Commission has pledged to broaden the scope of its Ecodesign Directive to improve the resource efficiency of key products. 

The Ecodesign Directive, enacted in 2009, has ensured that a wide range of common products, such as washing machines, televisions and LED lightbulbs, meet certain minimum requirements for energy saving.

The new measures will apply eco design rules to six new product groups, including solar panels, hand dryers, lifts, electric kettles, refrigerated containers and building automation controls. 

‘Next phase’

Speaking in Brussels on 8 November, European Commission first vice-president Frans Timmermans said: “Products [which] had the biggest yield in energy savings were already on the list and are already subject to ecodesign [rules], but now we need to go into the next phase and select further products.

“If you look at what we've done so far, the energy saved is the annual energy consumption of Italy, which is huge - thanks to ecodesign.”

He added that new measures would focus on “wider resource efficiency aspects, not just energy and water use. We want to explore how to improve recyclability, durability, reparability of products.”

The new measures will come in as part of the EU’s circular economy package, which is currently passing through EU Parliament. The government has confirmed that all existing EU legislation will be passed into national law when the UK leaves.

Business benefit

Vice-president Jyrki Katainen added that the updated framework could add an extra €55 billion in annual revenues for European businesses.

“It’s not only that companies are producing more efficient consumer products, but also that other industries are using more efficient products in their processes”, he said.

Meanwhile, Green Alliance, a UK-based think tank, has published a new report on the benefits of smart eco design.

The ‘Better products by design’ report highlights that easily broken, hard-to-repair products frustrate consumers, cost more money and create unnecessary waste. 

SMEs in Greater Manchester can benefit from expert support to embed ecodesign into their products through the Business Growth Hub.