The European Commission has proposed a package of European Green Deal measures with the aim of making sustainable products the norm in the EU and boosting circular business models. It also proposed changes to consumer law, which we wrote about last week.
Regulation on Ecodesign for Sustainable Products
The proposal for a Regulation on Ecodesign for Sustainable Products addresses product design, which determines up to 80% of a product's lifecycle environmental impact. It sets out new requirements to make products more durable, reliable, reusable, upgradable, reparable, easier to maintain, refurbish and recycle, and energy and resource efficient. In addition, product-specific information requirements will help consumers to know the environmental impacts of their purchases. All regulated products will have Digital Product Passports. This aims to make it easier to repair or recycle products and facilitate tracking substances of concern along the supply chain. The proposal also contains measures to end the destruction of unsold consumer goods, as well as expand green public procurement and provide incentives for sustainable products.
The existing Ecodesign framework is being extended to cover a broader range of products; and to broaden the scope of the requirements with which products are to comply.
The Commission has also adopted an Ecodesign and Energy Labelling Working Plan 2022-2024 to cover new energy-related products, update and increase the ambition for products that are already regulated, as a temporary measure until the new regulation enters into force. It addresses consumer electronics, which it says are the fastest growing source of waste.
EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles
The Commission says that European consumption of textiles has the fourth highest impact on the environment and climate change, after food, housing and mobility. It is also the third highest area of consumption for water and land use, and fifth highest for the use of primary raw materials.
The EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles sets out the vision and concrete actions to ensure that by 2030 textile products placed on the EU market are long-lived and recyclable, made as much as possible of recycled fibres, free of hazardous substances and respect social rights and the environment. Producers will be required to take responsibility for their products along the value chain, including when they become waste.
The specific measures will include ecodesign requirements for textiles, clearer information, a Digital Product Passport and a mandatory EU extended producer responsibility scheme. It also anticipates measures to tackle the unintentional release of microplastics from textiles, ensure the accuracy of green claims, and boost circular business models, including reuse and repair services. To address fast fashion, the Strategy also calls on companies to minimise their carbon and environmental footprints, and on member states to adopt favourable taxation measures for the reuse and repair sector.
Construction Products Regulation
Buildings are responsible for around 50% of resource extraction and consumption and more than 30% of the EU's total waste generated per year. In addition, buildings are responsible for 40% of EU's energy consumption and 36% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.
The revision of the Construction Products Regulation aims to strengthen and modernise the rules in place since 2011. It will create a harmonised framework to assess and communicate the environmental and climate performance of construction products. New product requirements will ensure that the design and manufacture of construction products makes them more durable, repairable, recyclable and easier to re-manufacture.
It will also make it easier for standardisation bodies to do their work of creating common European standards and there will be enhanced market surveillance capacities and clearer rules for economic operators along the supply chain. Finally, the revised Regulation will offer digital solutions to reduce administrative burdens, particularly on SMEs, including a construction products database and a Digital Products Passport.
More sustainability and resource efficiency also means more resilience when a crisis disrupts our industrial supply chains