EU rules for sustainable household appliances

In a continued effort to reduce Europe’s carbon footprint and to make energy bills cheaper for European consumers, the Commission today adopted new eco-design measures for products such as refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers and televisions.

mproving the ecodesign of products contributes to implementing the ‘Energy efficiency first’ principle of the EU’s Energy Union priority. For the first time the measures include requirements for repairability and recyclability, contributing to circular economy objectives by improving the life span, maintenance, re-use, upgrade, recyclability and waste handling of appliances.

European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen said: “Whether it is by fostering repairability or improving water consumption, intelligent eco-design makes us use our resources more efficiently, bringing clear economic and environmental benefits. Figures speak for themselves: these measures can save European households on average €150 per year and contribute to energy savings equal to annual energy consumption of Denmark by 2030. It is with concrete steps such as these that Europe as a whole is embracing the circular economy to the benefit of citizens, our environment and European businesses.”

European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Canete said: “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”.

Commenting on the adoption of the measures, Monique Goyens, Director general of BEUC, the European Consumer Association, said: “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.”

Paolo Falcioni, Director General of APPLiA, the European home industry appliance association, said: “The new, ambitious, ecodesign requirements on improving resource efficiency are a tool to ensure that all actors play by the same rules and advance the Circular Culture concept. Provided that market surveillance authorities could have enough resources and coordination to face new difficulties in verifying the compliance with the law.”

Chloé Fayole (Programme & Strategy Director at the environmental NGO ECOS) commented on behalf of the Coolproducts campaign, led by ECOS (European Environmental Citizens Organization) and the EEB (European Environmental Bureau): “Ecodesign continues to be a European success story, in terms of energy savings and now repairability of products. Giving Europeans the right to repair products they own is common sense, and we therefore welcome the decisions that the EU has made.”

Savings

The Commission estimates that these measures, together with the energy labels adopted on 11 March, will deliver 167 TWh of final energy savings per year by 2030. This is equivalent to the annual energy consumption of Denmark and corresponds to a reduction of over 46 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. These measures can save European households on average Ä150 per year.

These savings come on top of those achieved by the existing eco-design and energy label requirements, which are expected to deliver yearly energy saving of around 150 Mtoe (million tonnes of oil equivalent) by 2020, roughly equivalent to the annual primary energy consumption of Italy.For consumers, this already means an average saving of up to Ä285 per year on their household energy bills.

Next steps

Following today’s adoption, the texts will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union in the coming weeks and will enter into force 20 days later.

Background

After a consultation process, the Commission has adopted 10 ecodesign implementing Regulations, setting out energy efficiency and other requirements for the following product groups: refrigerators; washing machines; dishwashers; electronic displays (including televisions); light sources and separate control gears; external power supplies; electric motors; refrigerators with a direct sales function (e.g. fridges in supermarkets, vending machines for cold drinks); power transformers; and welding equipment.

The new ecodesign measures explained

What has the Commission adopted?

The Commission adopted 10 ecodesign implementing regulations, setting out energy efficiency and other requirements for the following product groups:

Refrigerators

Washing machines

Dishwashers

Electronic displays (including televisions)

Light sources and separate control gears

External power suppliers

Electric motors

Refrigerators with a direct sales function (e.g. fridges in supermarkets, vending machines for cold drinks)

Power transformers

Welding equipment

Eight of these regulations revise already existing requirements, whereas refrigerators with a direct sales function and welding equipment are regulated for the first time.

What are the overall benefits of the Ecodesign and Energy Labelling Package?

The European Commission estimates that this package of measures will deliver 167 TWh of final energy savings per year by 2030. This is equivalent to the annual energy consumption of Denmark.

These savings correspond to a reduction of over 46.million tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

More importantly, through these measures European households save on average 150 EUR per year.

These savings come on top of the savings achieved by the existing ecodesign measures and energy labels.

How are these measures linked with the new EU energy labels?

Six of the product groups that are subject to new and revised ecodesign requirements, are also covered by new energy labelling rules, i.e. Refrigerators, Washing machines, Dishwashers, Electronic displays (including televisions), Light sources and Refrigerators with a direct sales function.

In particular for consumer products, ecodesign and energy labelling go hand in hand providing European consumers with valuable information and thereby enabling them to make an informed choice and eventually drive the market towards more energy efficient products.

How do these measures help contribute to the circular economy and the protection of the environment?

The Ecodesign Working Plan 2016-2019 identified the potential of ecodesign measures to contribute significantly to circular economy objectives. Preparatory and review studies for product specific measures now systematically consider resource efficiency aspects.

Decisions made at the design phase greatly influence what happens during the use and end-of-life phases, not only in terms of energy consumption, but also in terms of life span, maintenance, repair, reuse, upgrade, recyclability and waste handling.

These measures also bring benefits at macroeconomic level, by reducing Europe’s energy bill through energy savings and by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In this way, they represent a direct contribution to the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

This set of ecodesign measures is a concrete contribution to our circular economy and climate objectives. In particular, measures are included for the first time under ecodesign to support the reparability and recyclability of products. Moreover, existing requirements on durability (for lighting), water consumption (for dishwashers and washing machines) and marking of chemicals were also revised and adapted as appropriate.

What improvements have been proposed on reparability and durability of appliances?

In order to promote reparability, and therefore to increase the lifespan of appliances, several ecodesign measures aim at facilitating products repair by ensuring the availability of spare parts, in particular that:

– spare parts are available over a long period of time after purchase, e.g.:

• 7 years minimum for refrigerating appliances (10 years for door gaskets);

• 10 years minimum for household washing-machines and household washer-dryers;

• 10 years minimum for household dishwashers (7 years for some parts for which access can be restricted to professional repairers);

• moreover, during that period, the manufacturer shall ensure the delivery of the spare parts within 15 working days.

– spare parts can be replaced with the use of commonly available tools and without permanent damage to the appliance;

In order to enhance the repair market, manufacturers have to ensure the availability of repair and professional maintenance information for professional repairers.

What improvements have been proposed on better water use?

Ecodesign measures for washing machines, washer-dryers, and dishwashers set a maximum use of water per cycle.

At the same time, a minimum of washing efficiency and rinsing effectiveness are required so that the reduction of water use is not achieved to the detriment of washing and rinsing performance.

For household washing machines and household washer-dryers, the impact assessment of the new measures estimates that 711 million m3/year water savings can be achieved by 2030. As for dishwashers, water savings should amount to 16 million m3/year by 2030.

Are other non–EU countries adopting these ecodesign measures?

No. EU ecodesign measures only apply to products placed on the Union market, independently of where they are manufactured. However, many other countries look to the European Union for inspiration when developing their own policies in this area.

What is the legislative framework in place for ecodesign and energy labelling?

In the EU, the Ecodesign Framework Directive sets a framework requiring manufacturers of energy-related products to improve the environmental performance of their products.

The Energy Labelling Framework Regulation complements the ecodesign framework directive by enabling end-consumers to identify the better-performing energy-related products.

The energy label is recognised by 93% of Europeans and 79% have been influenced by it when buying an appliance, according to a recent Eurobarometer survey.

The legislative framework builds upon the combined effect of the two aforementioned pieces of legislation. The ecodesign framework directive and the energy labelling framework regulationare implemented through product-specific implementing and delegated regulations.

As an alternative to the mandatory ecodesign requirements, voluntary agreements or other self-regulation measures can be presented by the industry (see also article 17 of the ecodesign framework directive). If certain criteria are met the Commission formally recognises these voluntary agreements.

How are decisions on ecodesign measures taken?

First, priority product groups are selected based on their potential for cost-effective reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and following a fully transparent process culminating in working plans that outline the priorities for the development of implementing measures.

Secondly, a preparatory study, involving extensive technical discussions with interested stakeholders, is undertaken by an independent consultant.

Thirdly, the Commission’s first drafts of ecodesign and energy labelling measures are submitted for discussion to the Consultation Forum, consisting of Member States’ and other stakeholders’ representatives.

Hereafter, the Commission publishes draft implementing measures.in the WTO notification database.

Once this phase is completed, the two procedures follow different paths. The draft energy labelling delegated acts are discussed in a Member State expert group where opinion(s) are expressed and consensus is sought but no vote is taken. The draft ecodesign measures are submitted for vote to the regulatory committee.

The European Parliament and Council have the right of scrutiny for a period of up to four months is foreseen. If no objection is received, the measures are published in the Official Journal and enter into force.

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