On Monday evening, the EU Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement on the revision of the EU framework for the ecodesign of sustainable products. The new “eco-design” regulations are intended to create products that last longer and are easier to repair, upgrade and recycle. The destruction of unsold clothing and shoes is to be prohibited. Sustainability requirements should have priority for certain products such as steel, textiles, furniture, tires and chemicals.

Parliament and Council negotiators agreed to update the so-called Ecodesign Regulation, which aims to improve various aspects of products throughout their life cycle to make them more durable and reliable, facilitate their reuse, refurbishment, repair and recycling, and use less resources, energy and water. Specific product requirements are outlined by the Commission through secondary legislation. The negotiators agreed that ecodesign requirements should also take into account practices related to premature obsolescence (when a product no longer works or is less efficient, e.g. due to design features, unavailability of consumables and spare parts or lack of software updates).

Priority products

At Parliament’s initiative, the negotiators agreed that the Commission would prioritize a number of product groups in its first work plan, which is to be adopted no later than nine months after the new legislation comes into force. These priority products include iron, steel, aluminum, textiles (especially clothing and shoes), furniture, tires, cleaning agents, paints, lubricants and chemicals.

Digital product passports for better informed consumers

Digital “product passports” with accurate and up-to-date information will enable consumers to make informed purchasing decisions. According to the agreed text, the Commission will operate a public web portal allowing consumers to search and compare the information contained in the product passports.

Notification and prohibition of the destruction of unsold consumer goods

Economic operators who destroy unsold goods must report annually on the quantity of products they discard and the reasons for doing so. The negotiators agreed to expressly prohibit the destruction of unsold clothing, clothing accessories and shoes two years after the law comes into force (six years for medium-sized companies). In future, the Commission may add further categories to the list of unsold products to which a destruction ban should apply.

Rapporteur Alessandra Moretti (S&D, IT) said: “It is time to end the ‘take, make, dispose’ model that is so damaging to our planet, our health and our economy. New products are designed to benefit everyone, respect our planet and protect the environment. Sustainable products are becoming the norm, enabling consumers to save energy, make repairs and make smart environmental choices when shopping. The ban on the destruction of unsold textiles and shoes will also help to change the way fast fashion manufacturers produce their goods.”

Next steps

Once the work at technical level has been completed, the Parliament and the Council must formally approve the agreement before it can enter into force.

Picture above: The EU wants to make eco-design the standard and thus prevent the disposal of waste. Photo: Pixabay/seagul

By fil