The Ecodesign Directive was issued in 2009. The intention was to improve the performance of priority products in terms of environmental metrics. This was a framework directive and the actual Regulations or Implementing measures contained the requirements which were normally for the designer of the equipment. The regulations also called up labelling and information requirements, usually tier based for implementation.
The Energy Labelling Directive was aimed at the supply chain to ensure that particular products were supplied with information through the supply chain so that end users could make an informed choice when buying such products. One result of this has been the familiar A to G labels found on many products.
The EU is currently working on the 4th Working plan covering the 5 year period from 2020 to 2024 and setting the product groups it sees as priorities for measures to be taken. The project is divided into Tasks and we have just seen some Task 3 information published.
To date 28 product groups and three voluntary product groups have been subject to ecodesign. The past focus has mainly been upon energy efficiency use and minor design issues.
Task 3 information covers these products:
- Industrial smart sensors
- Base stations
- Professional cooking appliances
- Swimming pool heaters
- Greenhouse covers
- Non tertiary coffee machines
- Tertiary hot beverage equipment
- Electric vehicle chargers
- Street lighting with PV
- Firmware and software
- Innovative IT solutions
- Scarce and environmentally critical raw materials
- Hair dryers
There are also three product groups remaining from the last Working plan which should be considered:
- Uninterruptable power supplies
- Professional laundry equipment
- Window products
We also expect to see some Task 3 information for these product groups:
- Interconnected home audio and video systems
- SOHO networking equipment
- Low temperature emitters
- Air curtains
- Small scale cooking products
- Unmanned aircraft – drones
- Water decalcifiers and softeners
- Patio heaters
It seems this Working Group will not just focus on energy efficiency as the main metric. They will also include measures considering the below metrics which shows a more life cycle analysis (LCA) approach and becoming closer to the circular economy requirements. The move is towards the rationale behind eco labels.
- Lightweight design
- Post-consumer recycled content
- Universal power supplies
- Universal batteries
- Ecological profile LCA thinking for all product phases during life and impact on use of resources i.e., consumables and energy
It is good to see the LCA based thinking, as this considers all stages in a products lifecycle and not just the use and disposal phases. Normally the use phase of a product has the biggest impact on greenhouse gases and resource use.
The phases in a LCA analysis are with some basic examples:
- Raw materials -quantity, source, CSR issues
- Design -low power use, minimal materials use, Design for recycling
- Production -use of materials, production waste
- Transport - From factory to supply chain and end user
- Use -direct and indirect materials use
- Disposal/Recycling -ease of recycling and reuse, obsolescence
Since the Ecodesign Directive was issued in 2009 it has been part of the CE Marking process and if it is applicable to a product it must be shown on the Declaration of Conformity. You need to see if any of the products above are applicable to you and if so, keep abreast with any new Implementing measures and Regulation.