- The Ecodesign directive (2009/125/EC) replaced the Energy Using Products Directive in 2009
- Includes products that do not use energy but impact on energy consumption, such as insulation materials and water-using devices, as well as energy using products.
- Aims to reduce the environmental impact caused during the manufacture, use and disposal of a very wide range of products.
- It has the potential to apply to most energy using and energy related products (except vehicles for transport).
- The Ecodesign Directive is a framework directive only, therefore, supporting legislation is required. The directive contains general requirements and lays out a standard format and rules for specific Implementing Measures to be created for a specific product group or function.
- Manufacturers and importers are required to ensure their products meet the requirements of the Ecodesign directive and any Implementing Measures that apply to their products.
Note: Implementing Measures are laws created at European Level. They take immediate effect in all member states without a transcription process.
The Ecodesign Directive was created to provide coherent rules for ecodesign across the European Union. As with all other CE marking Directives, this legislation ensures that national regulations of Member States are aligned such that potential barriers to intra-EU trade are removed.
‘Ecodesign’ aims at reducing the environmental impact of products, including their energy consumption throughout their entire life cycle. The production, distribution, use and end-of-life management of energy using products have significant negative effects on the environment. These effects include the used energy, released waste materials and released hazardous substances during the extraction, processing and transporting of raw materials and the finished product, the energy used by the product during its active life, and the waste products and energy used when the product is correctly disposed of. According to the European Commission ‘it is estimated that 80% of all product-related environmental impacts are determined during the design phase of a product’. Thus, by legislating for ecodesign at the initial stages of product design, the energy consumed through the entire life cycle of energy using products should be considerably lower.
The Directive itself is a ‘framework directive’, so its actual purpose is to lay down the general principles of ecodesign and to define conditions and criteria for setting further, specific, requirements. These further requirements can then be researched and tailored to specific product groups and published relatively quickly, and they will relate to environmentally relevant product characteristics, such as energy consumption. The specific requirements will be published as ‘Implementing Measures’.
Implementing Measures(IM's) are made as European Law Commission Regulations. Once enacted, they enter into force in all the member states without requiring a transcription process into their National Law. They can thus be issued much more quickly than the more usual Directive Process.
The Directive has the potential to apply to most energy using and energy related products (except vehicles for transport), and covers all energy sources. However, as the Directive is only a framework directive, there is nothing for products to actually be designed in accordance with until specific implementing measures are published for them. As with other CE marking directives, it applies to all products placed on the EU market and to imported products.
The following products have had implementing measures adopted and are covered by the new Ecodesign Directive (2009/125/EC):
- Air conditioners
- Electric motors
- Lamps (directional and LED)
- Lamps (household)
- Lamps (Fluorescent)
- Power supplies
- Refrigerating appliances
- Set-top boxes
- Standby and off mode
- Tumble driers
- Vacuum cleaners
- Washer-driers (combined)
- Washing machines
- Water pumps
Links to the Regulations and IM's for these products can be found in the Europa Ecodesign and Energy Labelling page
New Implementing Requirements
The Ecodesign Directive is generally structured like the other New Approach directives, with design requirements and administrative requirements. However, when an Implementing Measure applies to a manufacturer’s products, the manufacturer must adhere precisely to its requirements. These are likely to include the following obligations:
- Assess the environmental aspects and impacts of the products
- Design and construct the products in compliance with ecodesign requirements
- Affix any eco-labelling required
- Carry out an appropriate conformity assessment (generally this is self-assessment)
- Affix the CE mark.
The ecodesign requirements contained within each Implementing Measure are either ‘generic’ or ‘specific’ requirements. An example of a generic requirement is 'standby power'. The generic requirements are aimed at improving the overall environmental performance, focussing on environmental aspects identified in the Implementing Measure. The specific requirements are presented in the Implementing Measure in the form of limit values or thresholds for selected environmental aspects with a significant adverse impact on the environment. As the requirement details are specifically created for each product type, the best place to look for the ones that apply to your products are in the relevant Implementing Measures themselves (in Annex I) - use the links above.
Conformity assessment is generally by means of self-assessment, where the manufacturer is required to draw up technical documentation and accompanying test reports in support of the declaration of conformity they are required to make. The required information is specified in the annexes of the appropriate Implementing Measures - see the links in the previous section above. Alternatively, if a company has an environmental management system which takes the product design and environmental performance adequately into account, and the ecodesign requirements of the applicable Implementing Measures are complied with, this can be used to demonstrate conformity instead.
The actual Declaration of Conformity must refer to the appropriate Implementing Measure, along with the usual information required for a Declaration of Conformity including compliance with all other applicable CE-marking directive. All technical documentation must be maintained for 10 years and delivered to a competent authority who has requested it at 10 days notice.
Enforcement and penalties
Responsibility for the enforcement of the Ecodesign Directive currently rests with the Environmental Regulations Team in the UK. This is in part due to the legislative requirement for Member States to appoint a suitable Market Surveillance Authority (MSA) from January 2010, who have appropriate powers to carry out their roles effectively in dealing with certain New Approach Directives.
The Ecodesign Directive states that the ‘Member States should determine the penalties to be applied in the event of infringements of the national provisions adopted pursuant to this Directive. Those penalties should be effective, proportionate and dissuasive.’ However, in the UK the only sanctions currently available to the MSA are criminal, with a maximum fine of £20000 in the Magistrates Court, and for all offences.
The Ecodesign Directive is not only a new CE marking directive, but forms a critical part of the European Commission’s environmental legislation canon. As such, it is currently a very hot topic and massive amounts of work are currently in progress to bring out effective, well-researched and coherent supporting documentation. A current list of the existing legislation resultant from the Ecodesign Directive can be found on Europa’s web page on Ecodesign. See also the European Council for an Energy efficiency Economy's web portal on Ecodesign
Directive 2009/125/EC of 21 October 2009 establishing a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy using and energy related products. Published Official Journal L285, 31 October 2009. This directive has been amended by Directive 2012/27/EU of 25 October 2012 on energy efficiency, which came into force on 4th December 2012. Published in the Official Journal L315, 14 November 2012.