The Environment Committee of the European Parliament has made its stance clear – the time has arrived for the model of ‘take, make, dispose’ that harms our planet, our health and our economy -- to end it once and for all. Well over a year ago, the committee had put forward a proposal for a regulation to establish a general framework for setting eco-design requirements for sustainable products and repeal current rules that focus on energy-related products only.
Finally, Europe has taken the global lead in moving a step ahead and is fully engaged in its bid to make products in the EU more environment-friendly, circular and energy efficient throughout their lifecycle with a key committee of the European Parliament voting to make sustainable products the norm. The Environment Committee has voted in favour of revising the EU’s eco-design framework for sustainable products and has adopted its position on revising the eco-design framework with 68 votes in favour, 12 against and 8 abstentions.
The point of action is a part of circular economy package that also includes an EU strategy for sustainable textiles and a proposal on empowering consumers for the green transition by way of introducing a product passport with easy-to-repair facility and consumer access to repair guidelines.
Adoption of report in July 2023
The Environment Committee’s report will be officially adopted by the European Parliament at a plenary session next month. The report will provide guidelines to be undertaken by the European Parliament’s negotiation roadmap as it provides a platform for directives and dialogues with individual European nations to finally fulfill the legislation. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have insisted that consumers can easily access and compare product passports online. The report also recommends the European Parliament initializes a specific ban on the destruction of unsold textiles and footwear among other products, one year after the entry into force of the law.
Premature obsolescence is out
One main point is manufacturers cannot set product lifetime limits through design features and must make software updates, consumables, spare parts and accessories for an appropriate period of time to ensure product longevity that is best for the planet and the consumers’ finances. Every product should be easily repaired and come with easy access to these repair guidelines. Product passports to be made mandatory for sale of every product and the information within these product passports must be transparent, authentic and updated information as per requirements. The purpose of these product passports is clear - consumers and businesses can make informed choices when purchasing products, facilitate repairs and recycling, and increase transparency about the environmental impact of what they are buying.
MEPS play pivotal role in implementation
Apart from making product passports mandatory, the MEPS also want the Committee to prioritise a number of product groups in its first working plan to be adopted within three months after the entry into force. These priority products include: iron, steel, aluminium, textiles (notably garments and footwear), furniture, tyres, detergents, paints, lubricants and chemicals. They have stated that economic operators which destroy unsold goods would have to report the annual number and percentage of products they discarded as well as their reasons why. Based on this information, MEPs want the Commission to identify products for which a destruction ban should be introduced. Additionally, the report asks for a specific ban on the destruction of unsold textiles and footwear as well as electrical and electronic equipment, one year after the entry into force of the law.