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Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation

The Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) signifies a crucial transformation in the European Commission’s strategy toward more sustainable products and a circular economy. Accordingly, the regulation expands ecodesign criteria for a broader range of products.

Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation

What is the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation?

The European Parliament and Council enacted Regulation (EU) 2024/1781 on June 13, 2024. The regulation, also known as Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR), establishes a comprehensive framework for setting ecodesign requirements. Moreover, it aims to enhance product sustainability throughout the European Union by establishing up-to-date criteria and revising existing directives. Accordingly, this regulation amends Directive (EU) 2020/1828 on the collective interests of consumers and Regulation (EU) 2023/1542 on batteries. It also repeals the ecodesign Directive 2009/125/EC. Notably, the ESPR enters into force in different phases, starting on 18 July 2024.

Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation and the European Green Deal

ESPR is a crucial component of the European Green Deal and the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP). The European Green Deal, launched on 11 December 2019, aims to transform the European Union into a prosperous and competitive society with a modern and resource-efficient economy. One of its primary goals is to make the EU the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Furthermore, the Deal underscores the importance of transitioning from a linear economy, characterized by the constant extraction, use, and disposal of materials, to a circular economy emphasizing sustainability and reduced environmental impact.

What Are the Objectives of Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation?

The regulation has several overarching goals:

  1. Enhancing product sustainability: It seeks to improve the sustainability of products throughout their entire lifecycle, from production to disposal, by setting robust ecodesign requirements. This involves improving energy efficiency, conserving resources, and minimizing environmental impacts.
  2. Supporting the circular economy: It encourages the design of products that are durable, reparable, upgradable, and recyclable, thus supporting the principles of a circular economy.
  3. Ensuring market surveillance: It strengthens market surveillance mechanisms to ensure products comply with ecodesign requirements.
  4. Facilitating consumer information: It mandates providing clear and accurate information to consumers about the environmental performance of products.

Key Provisions of Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation

1. Scope:

The preceding regulations apply only to energy-related products. However, ESPR covers a broader range of products. Any physical goods, excluding food, feed, medicinal products, and living plants and animals, placed on the EU market must adhere to the regulation. Examples of in-scop products include:

  • Consumer electronics
  • Appliances
  • Furniture
  • Textile
  • Industrial machinery
  • Construction materials
  • Medical instruments
  •  

This broad scope is crucial for addressing the environmental impact of various products and promoting sustainable practices across different industries.

2. Ecodesign Requirements:

The European Commission is responsible for establishing specific ecodesign requirements through delegated acts. These requirements aim to minimize environmental impacts throughout the product lifecycle, from raw material extraction and manufacturing to use and end-of-life disposal. Subsequently, these obligations cover various aspects of product sustainability, including:

Energy efficiency: Ensuring that products use energy more efficiently and reduce energy consumption during their lifecycle.

Material efficiency: Promoting the use of materials in a way that reduces waste and maximizes resource efficiency.

Durability: Encouraging the design of products with a longer lifespan and more tolerable to wear and tear.

Reparability and upgradability: Facilitating the repair and upgrade of products to extend their useful life and reduce waste.

Recyclability: Ensuring that products can be easily disassembled and recycled at the end of their lifecycle.

3. Digital Product Passport:

A key feature of the regulation is the introduction of the Digital Product Passport (DPP). This passport contains essential information about a product, including:

  • Product composition: Information about the materials and substances used in the product.
  • Environmental performance: Data on the product’s energy consumption, emissions, and other environmental impacts.
  • Ecodesign compliance: Documentation proving that the product meets the required ecodesign criteria.
  • Repair and maintenance information: Instruction to facilitate repair and maintenance.
  • End-of-life management: Guidance on proper disposal, recycling, and repurposing.

The digital product passport must be accessible to consumers, market surveillance authorities, and other stakeholders. This passport enhances transparency and traceability across the supply chain. Additionally, it provides comprehensive information that supports the circular economy.

4. Market Surveillance:

Member States must ensure compliance with the ESPR requirements through effective market surveillance mechanisms. This includes conducting regular checks on products, testing for compliance, taking enforcement actions, and imposing penalties for non-compliant products. The regulation also promotes cooperation among member states to achieve its objectives. Robust market surveillance is essential for maintaining the integrity of the ecodesign framework and ensuring that only compliant products are available in the market.

5. Product Information and Labeling:

The regulation mandates clear labeling of products to inform about products’ environmental impacts and sustainability features. This covers information on product performance, energy consumption, material efficiency, recyclability, and other relevant environmental indicators. Key elements of consumer information and labeling include:

  • Environmental labels: Products must display labels indicating their environmental performance, such as energy efficiency ratings and carbon footprint.
  • Product information sheets: Detailed information about the product’s composition, durability, reparability, and other sustainability features must be provided.
  • Digital access to information: Consumers should have access to product information through digital means, such as QR codes linking to the digital product passport​.

 

As a result, by providing consumers with clear and accurate information, the regulation empowers them to make informed purchasing decisions and encourages the adoption of more sustainable products.

6. Role of the European Commission:

The European Commission plays a central role in implementing ESPR. The Commission is empowered to adopt delegated acts to specify and update ecodesign requirements and implementation measures as necessary. This flexibility allows the Commission to respond to technological advancements and emerging environmental challenges by adjusting ecodesign requirements.

The Commission also oversees creating and managing the web portal for the digital product passport. This portal is a centralized platform for storing and accessing product information, making it easier for consumers, manufacturers, and regulators to verify compliance and make informed decisions.

Moreover, the Commission plays a crucial role in coordinating the implementation of the regulation among Member States and stakeholders. This includes providing guidance, facilitating information exchange, and ensuring consistency in the ecodesign requirements application across the EU.

7. Manufacturers Responsibilities:

Manufacturers must provide relevant information and documentation to demonstrate compliance with ecodesign requirements. This transparency is essential for market surveillance authorities to verify compliance and for consumers to make informed choices about the products they purchase.

8. Member States Responsibilities:

Member States must implement national measures to comply with the regulation. This includes establishing or designating competent authorities for market surveillance and ecodesign requirements enforcement. Member States must also ensure that these authorities have the necessary resources and capabilities to carry out their duties effectively.

In addition, Member States must regularly report to the Commission on the implementation and enforcement of the regulation. This includes providing data on market surveillance activities, compliance rates, and enforcement actions. Regular reporting ensures transparency and accountability in the implementation of the regulation.

9. Penalties of Non-Compliance:

The regulation mandates the establishment of penalties for non-compliance. These penalties must be effective, proportionate, and dissuasive to ensure manufacturers adhere to ecodesign requirements. The Member States determine the nature and extent of penalties, but they must align with the overall objectives of the regulation.

10. International Trade and Compliance:

The Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation includes provisions to ensure that imported products comply with the same ecodesign requirements as those produced within the EU. This aims to prevent market distortions and promote global sustainability standards. Key aspects of international trade and compliance include:

  • Equivalence of standards: Imported products must meet the same ecodesign criteria as EU-produced goods, ensuring a level playing field for all manufacturers.
  • Cooperation with international partners: The EU works with international partners to harmonize sustainability standards and promote global adoption of ecodesign principles.

11. Implementation and Transitional Measures:

The regulation outlines a timeline for implementation, allowing sufficient time for industries to adapt to the requirements. Transitional measures are included to support businesses during the shift to the ESPR regulatory framework. There are specific deadlines set for the adoption of implementing acts and the operationalization of the digital product passport system. The Commission also monitors the regulation implementation, evaluates its impact, and makes necessary adjustments to ensure its effectiveness​. In other words, these measures aim to ensure a smooth transition to the ESPR regulatory framework and maximize the regulation’s positive impact on sustainability.

Amendments and Repeals per the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation

Directive 2009/125/EC

The ESPR replaces Directive 2009/125/EC, which previously established the ecodesign requirements for energy-related products. The ESPR provides a more comprehensive and robust framework for promoting product sustainability.

Regulation (EU) 2023/1542 on Battery Compliance

The regulation also amends Regulation (EU) 2023/1542 to incorporate updated requirements related to battery sustainability and the circular economy. These changes strengthen the sustainable product design framework and promote the integration of circular economy principles.

The Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation in a Nutshell

The ESPR represents a significant step towards a more sustainable future by establishing comprehensive ecodesign requirements for a broader range of products. In other words, by setting stringent ecodesign requirements, encouraging the design of durable and reparable products, and ensuring robust market surveillance, the regulation aims to reduce the environmental impact of products and support the EU’s transition to a climate-neutral and sustainable economy by 2050.

Do you have any questions or concerns regarding the ESPR? Contact Enviropass!