New rules make household appliances more sustainable

fridge

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


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.Improving 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 Cañete 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.”

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 €150 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 €285 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.

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