As the global focus on sustainability intensifies, the EU is taking steps towards a more responsible use of resources. The Eco Design Directive 2009/125/EC has been a catalyst for significant benefits. In 2021 alone, reported energy expenditure savings of EUR 120 billion and also a 10% reduction in annual energy consumption. All achieved across 31 product groups under the current eco design measures. Building on this success, the EU has also now proposed the groundbreaking Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR). This now encompasses a broader range of products to drive environmental sustainability and circularity.
Embracing Sustainability and Circularity
The new Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation, proposed on 30th March 2022, marks a significant leap forward in environmental protection and resource efficiency. Unlike the current Ecodesign Directive, which focuses on energy-related products, ESPR aims to establish a comprehensive framework for enhancing circularity, energy performance, and other environmental sustainability aspects across various product groups.
Setting Sustainable Requirements
The proposed framework empowers the EU to set ecodesign requirements for an array of physical goods, allowing for significant improvements in product durability, reusability, upgradability, and reparability. The presence of substances inhibiting circularity will be addressed, along with measures for energy and resource efficiency, recycled content, remanufacturing, recycling, carbon and environmental footprints, and the implementation of a Digital Product Passport.
Eco Design Directive – A Focus on Sustainable Future
By 2030, the sustainable products framework is projected to save 132 million tonnes of primary energy. Equivalent to approximately 150 billion cubic meters of natural gas. This significantly reduces the EU’s reliance on imported Russian gas.
The Digital Product Passport
The introduction of the “Digital Product Passport” revolutionizes product information accessibility for consumers and businesses. Scanning a data carrier provides valuable insights into a product’s environmental sustainability attributes, including durability, reparability, recycled content, and spare part availability. The passport empowers informed purchasing decisions, facilitates repairs and recycling, and enhances transparency on products’ life cycle environmental impacts.
Promoting Global Sustainability
ESPR’s regulations apply to all products placed on the EU market, irrespective of their origin. The EU is committed to collaborating with producing countries, ensuring their products align with sustainable goals. International partnerships will be nurtured to eliminate trade barriers for sustainably responsible products and reduce sustainable investments’ costs.
Ongoing Work and Future Ambitions for the Eco Design Directive
While ESPR will eventually replace the current Ecodesign Directive 2009/125/EC remains in operation. The Eco Design and energy labelling working plan 2022-2024 outlines updated priorities for implementation, including the ambitious regulation of consumer electronics, such as smartphones, tablets, and solar panels.
The proposed Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation represents a visionary step towards a more sustainable future. By extending ecodesign requirements to various product groups, the EU is solidifying its commitment to environmental protection and circular economy principles. The Digital Product Passport enhances transparency and empowers consumers and businesses to make eco-conscious choices. Together with ongoing work and moreover increased ambition, ESPR sets the stage for a more sustainable, circular, and prosperous future for businesses, consumers, and responsible use of resources. 🌱💡