Commission welcomes provisional agreement for more sustainable, repairable and circular products
The Commission welcomes the provisional agreement reached last night between the European Parliament and the Council on the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation. It will help make sustainable products the new norm in the EU, by making them last longer, use energy and resources more efficiently, easier to repair and recycle, contain fewer substances of concern and include more recycled content. It will also improve the level playing field for sustainable products on the EU's internal market and strengthen the global competitiveness of businesses offering sustainable products.
Making sustainable products the norm
The new law will build on the existing Ecodesign Directive that has successfully driven the improved energy efficiency of products in the EU for almost 20 years. It will allow to progressively set performance and information requirements for key products placed on the EU market.
The Commission will adopt and regularly update a list of products identified on the basis of a thorough analysis and criteria notably related to the EU's climate, environment and energy efficiency objectives. This way, the Commission will ensure predictability and transparency on which products will be covered when. Priority will be given to highly impactful products, including textiles (especially garments and footwear), furniture (including mattresses), iron and steel, aluminium, tyres, paints, lubricants and chemicals, as well as energy related products, ICT products and other electronics.
The new Ecodesign requirements will go beyond energy efficiency and aim to boost circularity, covering, among others:
- product durability, reusability, upgradability, and repairability
- presence of chemical substances that inhibit reuse and recycling of materials
- energy and resource efficiency
- recycled content
- carbon and environmental footprints
- available product information, in particular a Digital Product Passport.
The new Regulation also contains novel measures to end the wasteful and environmentally harmful practice of destroying unsold consumer products. Companies will have to take measures to prevent this practice, and the co-legislators introduced a direct ban on destruction of unsold textiles and footwear products, with derogations for small companies and a transition period for medium-sized ones. Over time, other sectors could be covered by such bans, if needed.
In addition, large companies will need to disclose every year how many unsold consumer products they discard and why. This is expected to strongly disincentivise businesses from engaging in this practice.
Better information for consumers
More information on the sustainability characteristics of products will be made available, including through a ‘Digital Product Passport' which will help consumers and businesses make more sustainable product choices and help authorities improve enforcement of the legal requirements.
The ‘passport' will be an easily accessible tag on products that will give instant access to information on the product's sustainability. It will be useful not only for consumers but also for customs and market surveillance authorities.
Additional product information could also be provided through labels similarly to the widely recognised EU Energy Label currently in place for many energy-related products, and could for instance be used to display a reparability score.
The European Parliament and the Council will now have to formally adopt the new Regulation. Once adopted, the Regulation will enter into force on the 20th day following its publication in the Official Journal.
After this happens, the first working plan under the new Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation will be adopted, which will establish which products would be targeted.
On 30 March 2022, the European Commission proposed an Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) as part of the Commission's Circular Economy Action Plan under the European Green Deal.
Products use up massive amounts of materials, energy and other resources and cause significant environmental impacts throughout their lifecycle, from the extraction of raw materials, to manufacture, transport, use and end of life. Half of global greenhouse gases and 90% of biodiversity loss are caused by extracting and processing primary raw materials. Negative environmental impacts include significant resource depletion, generation of greenhouse gas emissions, and pollution. A recent JRC study demonstrated that global planetary boundaries are close to or are already being surpassed in several impact categories. The EU needs to act now to reverse these trends.
The objective of the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation is to make sustainable products the norm on the EU market and reduce their overall environmental and climate impacts. The ‘take-make-use-dispose' model can be avoided, and much of a product's environmental impacts is determined at the design stage. The new Regulation will extend the existing Ecodesign framework in two ways: first, to cover the broadest possible range of products; and second, where appropriate, to broaden the scope of the requirements with which products are to comply.
For More Information
Green Deal: New proposals to make sustainable products the norm and boost Europe's resource independence (press release from 30 March 2022)
Questions and Answers: Sustainable Products Initiative (from 30 March 2022)