Provisional agreement on ecodesign in Europe

Provisional agreement on ecodesign in Europe

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The European Parliament and the Council last night reached a provisional agreement on the proposed Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation.

The aim of the EU ecodesign regulation is to make sustainable products, including electronics, making them last longer, use energy and resources more efficiently, easier to repair and recycle, contain fewer substances of concern and include more recycled content.

The regulations, which have been in development for the last two years, will also prevent unsold equipment from being destroyed, as happens with online retailers.

The new law will build on the existing Ecodesign Directive and will progressively set performance and information requirements for key products placed on the EU market. This has seen significant resistance from electronics companies such as Apple on repairability.

The agreement will allow the European Commission to adopt and regularly update a list of products that will be covered by the regulations. Priority will be given to highly impactful products, including energy related products, ICT products and other electronics, as well as textiles (especially garments and footwear), furniture (including mattresses), iron and steel, aluminium, tyres, paints, lubricants and chemicals.

More information on the sustainability characteristics of products will be made available, including through a ‘Digital Product Passport’ which will help consumers and businesses make more sustainable product choices and help authorities improve enforcement of the legal requirements.

The ‘passport’ will be an easily accessible tag on products that will give instant access to information on the product’s sustainability.  It will be useful not only for consumers but also for customs and market surveillance authorities and is currently under development by a consortium of companies.

“The single market is our best tool to increase sustainability across the EU. The agreement reached today will ensure a level playing field for sustainable products on the EU market and increase the competitiveness of the European industry, including at global stage. The Digital Product Passport makes use of digital innovation to improve access to information for citizens and facilitate compliance checks against rogue products entering the EU market. It’s a positive step towards a more sustainable and economically robust future for the EU,” said Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market.

The new Ecodesign requirements will go beyond energy efficiency and aim to boost circularity, covering, among others:

  • product durability, reusability, upgradability, and repairability
  • presence of chemical substances that inhibit reuse and recycling of materials
  • energy and resource efficiency
  • recycled content
  • carbon and environmental footprints
  • available product information, in particular a Digital Product Passport. 

Companies will have to take measures to prevent this practice, and the co-legislators introduced a direct ban on destruction of unsold textiles and footwear products, with derogations for small companies and a transition period for medium-sized ones. Over time, other sectors could be covered by such bans, if needed.  

In addition, large companies will need to disclose every year how many unsold consumer products they discard and why. This is expected to strongly disincentivise businesses from engaging in this practice.

“I’m very happy that we have found the provisional agreement on one of the core proposals of the European Green Deal and its Circular Economy Action Plan – the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation. The regulation will ensure that products on the EU market are more energy-efficient, durable, reusable, repairable, recyclable as well as increasingly made of recycled materials,” said Maroš Šefčovič, Executive Vice-President for European Green deal.

Next steps

The European Parliament and the Council will now have to formally adopt the new Regulation. Once adopted, the Regulation will enter into force on the 20th day following its publication in the Official Journal.

After this happens, the first working plan under the new Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation will be adopted, which will establish which products would be targeted.


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