Ecodesign directive: from energy efficiency to recycling

The ecodesign directive aims to make new products more energy efficient. MEPs want to update these rules to make products easier to recycle and repair. Read on to find out why.

Ecodesign: the EU is pushing for greener solutions

The existing directive


The EU's current ecodesign directive sets minimum energy efficiency standards for products such as boilers, computers and household applicants. The aim is to reduce their impact on the environment with the added benefit of saving consumers money. It is estimated that by 2020 the ecodesign policy can save European consumers €490 a year on their energy bills.


However, there is plenty of scope for further improvements. This is why MEPs are now looking at ways to update the directive to include other requirements.


What Parliament is calling for


The report adopted by MEPs on 31 May calls on the European Commission to go beyond energy efficiency and also consider other aspects, such how long a product lasts, how easy it is to take part, repair and recycle. Setting requirements for these things would help to make products last longer and reducing their impact on the environment even further.


It also fits in with the shift to a more sustainable economic model known as the circular economy, in which materials and products are reused, repaired and recycled for as long as possible.


The report also calls for the directive to apply to more products. For example, MEPs believe the rules should apply to mobile phones as on average consumers buy a new one every two years. Including phones in the directive would not only help to improve their energy efficiency, but also ensure that the rare metals in them are recycled, that they are better designed and that the battery can be easily removed and replaced.


of environmental pollution and 90% of manufacturing costs are the result of decisions taken at the product design stage

Other improvements Parliament has called for


In July 2017, Parliament called for minimum standards for how long products should last as well as for measures to tackle so-called planned obsolescence, which is when companies build defects into a device to make it expire at a set date or after a set number of cycles.


What is ecodesign?


Ecodesign means that when manufacturers design certain products they have to meet minimum requirements related to energy efficiency. If they don't, they are not allowed to sell the product in the EU.


Product types that are currently covered by the ecodesign rules include boilers, computers and household appliances. Check out the full list here.


Next steps


MEPs will debate the proposals to improve the current ecodesign directive on Wednesday 30 May and vote on it the following day. If adopted, the report is forwarded to the European Commission for consideration.


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