MEPs give greenlight to make sustainable products the norm
Environment committee vote sets the stage for adoption of the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulations before the end of this parliamentary term. Key aspects will still need to be negotiated in plenary and trilogues.
Today the Environment Committee voted on their report for the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation with a majority of 68 votes in favour, 12 against and 8 abstentions, representing an important milestone in the Green Deal.
The ESPR will replace the existing Ecodesign Directive, which has been one of the EU’s most effective climate policies to date – having already contributed substantially to energy savings, saving 126 billion euros in citizens electricity bills in 2021, while creating 22 billion euros of additional business revenue and 323 thousand jobs in 2020 alone with even better projections by 2030.
Latest research from consumer organisations estimates that increased energy prices have allowed energy savings for consumers resulting from ecodesign measures to grow from €385 to between €650 and €1,800 per household per year.
The new regulation currently under negotiation will continue to boost consumer savings and critically expand the scope of legislation to non-energy products.
Stéphane Arditi, Director for Climate, Circular Economy and Industry at the EEB said:
“The eco-design for sustainable products regulation is a powerful instrument to transform our market towards longer lasting, repairable, and low impact products. It creates a level playing field on how to compete and trade in the EU. It benefits consumers, European businesses and the environment. It is a success story and clearly shows how economic health and environmental regulation can be working hand in hand, debunking today’s obsolete thinking that opposes competitiveness and environmental policy. Today, the environment committee made a further crucial step towards making sustainable products a default option accessible to all.”
Jean-Pierre Schweitzer, Deputy Policy Manager for Circular Economy at the EEB said:
“We particularly welcome reinforced provisions on repair, an immediate ban on the destruction of unsold textiles and electronics and on an extended definition and future disclosure of substances of concern. We also commend MEPs for proposing more guidance on how to align future measures with EU sustainability objectives and planetary boundaries and for calling for more coherence between the different product policy instruments, such as Green Public Procurement, Ecolabels and other economic incentives.”
The environment committee report, led by the socialist rapporteur Alessandra Moretti, includes a number of positive developments building on the Commission’s proposal, namely:
- Clarifying the objectives of future measures to achieve the EU’s climate goals and stay within planetary boundaries
- Providing a comprehensive definition of substances of concern – to track their use through product value chains and restrict their use in products where they disrupt circularity or pose an unnecessary risk to human health
- Facilitating future reparability measures with clear definitions of repairers and planned obsolescence through the introduction of a new article protecting repair (Article 5a)
- Supporting a ban on the destruction of unsold textiles and electronics
- Creating a safety net to support the inclusion of cement if the construction products regulation fails to deliver on this polluting product group
Whether social sustainability will be included in the scope of measures will be decided in a later review.To the EEB, the delay is disappointing, however we acknowledge that the social dimension is not completely silenced as in the EU Commission proposal. Campaigners warned that the exclusion of social sustainability would represent a missed opportunity, citing the strong link between social and environmental sustainability in sectors like textiles, electronics and furniture.
A key aspect still to be determined at the plenary vote is enforcement and in particular the liability regime for products sold online. While the text voted today insists on enforcement and requires sufficient resource dedication to market surveillance, it remains too vague on the obligations of online market sales compared to other economic actors. We regret that the wording to more systematically include online marketplaces in the definition of importers, distributors and economic actors has not been retained.
At a recent parliament event, civil society and industry also collectively raised concerns that the Council position has watered down enforcement measures.
The final position of the European Parliament will likely be voted on in plenary in the second week of July.
A general approach was already published by the Swedish presidency earlier this spring.
Trilogues are expected to start after the summer recess, during the Spanish presidency.
This should allow for sufficient time for this new legislative framework and a cornerstone of the Green Deal’s circular economy policies to be adopted before the end of the legislative term.
Notes to editors
We regret that industry self regulations in the form of “voluntary commitments” from companies, which have historically failed to deliver any tangible environmental savings, can still be considered as an option. However, we welcome the proposal that those should be restricted to product groups not on the priority working plan. That would ensure that regulations cover the most significant products in terms of impacts, offering more certainty for economic actors, for human health and the environment.