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Ecodesign rules: Making sustainable products the norm

As the world shifts towards a greener and more sustainable future, the design and production of products play a pivotal role in shaping our environmental impact. So far the EU lacked an overarching framework setting legislative rules for sustainable design, production and consumption of all products.


On April 23 the European Parliament approved a revised Ecodesign regulation, that goes beyond the "energy-related products" focus from the current European Ecodesign Directive  (Directive 2009/125/EC), expanding the scope to more product groups and covering more product-specific rules with a greater focus on durability, reparability, reuse, recyclability, disassembly, ease of end-of-life, recyclability, thus aligning product design with environmental goals. Additionally, it tackles premature obsolescence by addressing design flaws, ensuring spare parts availability, and requiring regular software updates to maintain product functionality.


EcoDesign refers to the integration of environmental sustainability considerations into the characteristics of a product, and into processes throughout its value chain.


The proposed Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) aims to promote more sustainable, circular, and energy-efficient products. It establishes a framework for setting ecodesign requirements for various product categories to improve their circularity, energy performance, and overall environmental sustainability. Building on the success of the Ecodesign Directive for energy-related products, the ESPR will apply to almost all categories of goods in the EU market.



Overview of initiatives in the Circular Economy package. Source: EURLex




Designing more sustainable, circular and energy performing products


Setting Ecodesign Standards: The proposed regulation mandates that all products on the internal market comply with minimum ecodesign requirements. These requirements cover various aspects, including durability, reparability, recyclability, energy efficiency, and the use of hazardous substances.


Introduction of Digital Product Passports: One of the key innovations of the proposed regulation is the introduction of digital product passports. These passports provide comprehensive information about a product's performance, traceability, technical documentation, and presence of harmful chemicals. This will make it easier to repair or recycle products and track substances of concern along the supply chain.


Ban on Product Destruction: To promote a circular economy, the regulation prohibits the destruction of unsold consumer products, with some exceptions. This move encourages reuse and recycling, ultimately reducing waste and environmental impact.


Enhanced Market Surveillance: Online marketplaces will be required to cooperate with market surveillance authorities to ensure effective enforcement of ecodesign requirements. Authorities will have the power to remove non-compliant products from the market.


Encouraging Sustainable Choices: Member States will have the flexibility to incentivize consumers to make sustainable choices, particularly when more sustainable products are not affordable. This could include initiatives such as eco-vouchers and green taxation.


With an ambitious goal, the EU aims to boost competitiveness, create jobs, and make the single market greener through harmonized Ecodesign regulations. Environmental sustainability requirements on products are essential for businesses to innovate and invest in circular models. Harmonized rules will prevent market distortions and encourage innovation. The shift to sustainable products can bring significant cost savings and empower consumers. By providing clear information and protection against green-washing, the EU can lead the way in making sustainable products mainstream globally.


Expected Next Steps


The proposal has undergone extensive review and amendment processes in the European Parliament and Council. The co-legislators have reached a provisional agreement, which still needs formal approval. Once approved, the regulation will come into force, driving significant changes in product design and production processes.


more info: Ecodesign regulation


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