This text is a proposal for a Regulation, if adopted, it will become a binding legislative act that must be applied in its entirety across the EU. However, as this initiative is still at the proposal stage, none of the elements mentioned in the article are agreed on yet.
What does it mean?
The aim of the Ecodesign Requirements for Sustainable Products Initiative is to make products sold in the EU more sustainable by requiring them to comply with certain eco-design requirements. This initiative is also introducing consumer information requirements under the Digital Product Passport.
This proposal for a Regulation revises and extends the scope of the Ecodesign Directive and will therefore replace it (if adopted). This revision was initiated in the context of the EU Green Deal and more precisely the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP). Through the Sustainable Product Policy Framework, the CEAP goal is to create a market for more sustainable products. This framework has 3 major pillars : sustainable product design, empowerment of customers and promotion of circularity in production processes. The Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation is the leading initiative for the first pillar.
This Regulation will progressively tackle different product sectors with tailored ecodesign requirements applied through delegated acts. Even though it is not explicitly stated in the Regulation which sectors will be addressed in priority, it is not a wild guess to say that textile will be one of the first industries concerned. In fact, the EU Strategy for Sustainable Textiles relies a lot on the present proposal for a Regulation to sustainably transform the textile sector.
Who is impacted?
All companies putting on the EU market products falling under the scope of the delegated acts.
What are the critical dates to remember?
This Regulation shall enter into force 20 days after its adoption by the European Council and Parliament.
Adoption happens if the two bodies reach an agreement after a dialogue phase that can last a couple of years. After adoption, the Regulation will be binding in the entire Union directly. Then the work on Delegated Acts can start. The ecodesign requirements will become mandatory for a certain product category only once the relevant Delegated Act will be adopted. See the graph below for more information. Details about the legislative process can be found here.
The requirements are divided in 4 sections:
Digital Product Passport & Labels
Destruction of unsold consumer products
Liability and Implementation
1. Ecodesign Framework
The ecodesign* requirements will come in the form of delegated acts. Delegated act are pieces of legislation adopted by the Commission that will set the ecodesign and information requirements for a specific product category. Products concerned by these acts shall only be placed on the EU market if they comply with such requirements. This Regulation takes precedence over Member States environmental performance laws (a product compliant with ecodesign requirements cannot be denied the entry in a Member State market for environmental performance reasons).
* Ecodesign: The integration of environmental sustainability considerations into the characteristics of a product and the processes taking place throughout the product’s value chain.
Product aspects: The ecodesign requirements must be adapted to the product category concerned and must consider all stages of the life cycle of the product. They are supposed to improve the following product aspects:
Durability: Durability and reliability of the product. Ease of repair and maintenance.
Circularity: Ease of upgrading, re-use, and remanufacturing. Ease and quality of recycling. Avoidance of technical solutions detrimental to re-use, recycling etc. Use of recycled material.
Resources: Consumption of energy, water, and other resources. Consumption of resources needed for proper use and maintenance of the product.
Waste and pollution: Amount of waste generated. Microplastic release. Emissions to air, water, or soil in the different phases of the lifecycle of the product.
Footprint: Environmental and carbon footprint of the product.
Other: Use of harmful substances in the product or in the production process. Weight and volume of product and packaging.
Product aspects are detailed in the Annex I downloadable here
Ecodesign performance requirements: In the delegated acts, ecodesign criteria must take the form of performance requirements with regards to the different product aspects listed above. These performance requirements can be either qualitative or quantitative (min and max levels regarding metrics related to product aspects). As of today, these requirements are unknown, they will be defined and agreed on during the adoption of the delegated acts specific to one product category.
Provisions for ecodesign requirements: The ecodesign requirements shall not:
Have a significant negative impact on the functionality of the product.
Have adverse effects on health and safety.
Significantly reduce the affordability of the product.
Have disproportionate negative impacts on the competitiveness of economic actors, especially SMEs.
Impose a proprietary technology on manufacturers.
Impose a disproportionate administrative burden on manufacturers.
Overview of the information requirements
Delegated acts shall precise information requirements relevant for the concerned product category. They must indicate how the required information shall be made available (the different options are detailed below)
Minimal information required:
Information included in the Digital Product Passport.
Information related to presence of substances of concern throughout the life cycle of the product.
Other information potentially required:
Performance of the product in relation with the product aspects.
Information on how to install, use, maintain and repair a product in order to minimize its impact and ensure maximal durability.
Information on how to dispose of such product.
Prioritization & Collaboration
In order to set the planning of delegated acts, the Commission shall prioritize product categories taking into account:
The potential contribution of these product categories to the achievement of the EU climate goals.
The ratio between improvement potential and costs.
The volume of sales of the product.
The distribution of the environmental impacts across the value chain (whether they take place in the European Union or not).
The estimated time the delegated act will be relevant for regarding the evolution of the product.
All stakeholders must be consulted and must contribute to the elaboration of the ecodesign requirements by taking into account their real effectiveness. Economic operators may submit self-regulation measures establishing alternative ecodesign requirements to the ones determined in the delegated acts. The Commission shall assess these propositions and if necessary, seek scientific advice.
2. Digital Product Passport & Labels
This section details two different methods to share information about a product. The first will be an immediate requirement for all products covered by delegated acts, the other method will be mandatory only if the delegated acts specify so.
Digital Product Passport
The purpose of a Digital Product Passport (DPP) is to give consumers easy access to a centralized bank of information regarding a product. For example, it can be through a QR code or bar code affixed to the product. The DPP will be made mandatory for all products concerned by delegated acts under this Regulation.
DPP Parameters: The characteristics of this DPP will be detailed in these delegated acts. They shall specify the following:
Information to be included (unique product identifier, compliance documentation, user manuals ... detailed list in Annex III downloadable here)
Type of data carrier to be used, its layout and positioning (bar code, QR code...).
Granularity level: model, batch or item
Authorizations: who has access to which information, who is allowed to update what.
Period of time during which the DPP shall remain available.
Exceptions to the DPP obligation: If the technical information required for the DPP is not available or if there is already an existing system fulfilling the objectives of the DPP, then products can be put on the market even without the DPP.
Requirements for the DPP: The DPP shall meet the following requirements:
It shall be connected to a unique product identifier through a data carrier. Both the carrier and the identifier shall be compliant with standard ISO/IEC 15459/2015.
The data carrier shall be physically present either on the product or on its packaging or attached documentation.
The information included in the DPP shall be developed with an inter-operable, machine readable, structured, and searchable format.
The information contained must respect the level of granularity defined (model, batch, or item).
Other technical requirements are included to ensure interoperability, security, and privacy of the information.
DPP registry: The Commission will set up and maintain a registry compiling the information stored in the DPPs of all the products concerned by delegated acts. This registry shall be updated by economic operators putting products on the EU market.
Delegated acts can specify in the information requirements that the information must be displayed using a label. In this situation, the acts shall specify:
The content of the label
The layout of the label and the manner in which it shall be displayed to consumers
Electronic means for generating labels
If the label shall include data carriers or other means to allow consumers to access further information.
Where delegated acts adopted do not require products to have a label, those products may not be placed on the market if they display labels which are likely to mislead or confuse customers with EU mandatory labels.
The EU Strategy for Sustainable Textiles relies a lot on the present proposal to sustainably transform the textile sector.
3. Destruction of unsold consumer products
Disclosure of information
Any economic operator that discards unsold consumer products shall disclose on a freely accessible website:
The number of unsold consumer products discarded per year, with the detail per category of products.
The reason for the discarding of products.
Number of discarded products delivered to remanufacturing, recycling and preparation for re-use facilities.
The Commission is empowered to adopt delegated acts to prohibit the destruction of unsold consumer products for certain categories of products where their destruction has a significant environmental impact. In the context of these acts, destructions of goods can exceptionally be accepted if it has been done for health and safety reasons, or if the products were refused by donation organizations. In this situation, the economic operators will still have to publicly disclose information about this destruction of products.
NOTE: Prohibition and disclosure requirements do not apply to SMEs except if there is sufficient evidence that they account for a substantial proportion of unsold consumer products being destroyed.
4. Liability & Implementation
Role & Liability of different actors
Manufacturers are responsible for carrying out the conformity assessment procedure regarding ecodesign and information requirements.
Importers shall only place compliant products on the market and must ensure that storage and transport conditions do not alter the conformity of the products.
Distributors shall make sure that the product is compliant. In case of doubt, they are responsible for withholding the product until confirmation of compliance.
Dealers are responsible for making sure that the required information is accessible to consumers and that the DPP is compliant.
Online marketplaces and search engines are required to collaborate with market surveillance authorities* to ensure a more effective surveillance. Market surveillance authorities have the power to order marketplaces to remove non-compliant products from their platforms.
Public authorities: Delegated acts can establish further requirements applicable to public contracts in the form of performance criteria regarding product parameters. This measure is known as Green Public Procurement.
* Market surveillance authority: means an authority designated by a Member State as responsible for carrying out market surveillance in the territory of that Member State. Their role is defined under Regulation (EU) 2019/1020.
Conformity Assessment and Declaration
Conformity: The Commission shall set accurate, reliable, and reproducible methods to test and assess the conformity of products with regards to ecodesign requirements. Products which are designed to alter their properties after the test phase shall not be placed on the market. If a product passes the test, an EU declaration of conformity shall be issued.
EU Declaration of Conformity: All products concerned by delegated acts will have to pass a EU declaration of conformity stating that the ecodesign requirements specified in the applicable acts have been fulfilled. Independent and competent conformity assessment bodies* designated by notifying authorities** shall carry out the conformity assessment activities with the highest degree of integrity and the requisite technical competence in the specific field of the act. The Commission shall ensure the coordination and cooperation between bodies notified under this Regulation.
* Conformity assessment body: Body that performs conformity assessment activities including calibration, testing, certification and inspection. Conformity assessment means the process demonstrating whether the requirements set out in the relevant delegated acts have been fulfilled.
** Notifying authority: “National authorities responsible for setting up and carrying out the necessary procedures for the assessment, designation and notification of conformity assessment bodies and for their monitoring.’ Definition from Law Insider
It is the responsibility of Member States to lay down effective, proportionate, and dissuasive penalties for economic operators who fail to comply with this Regulation. These penalties can be seen as a guarantee for the consumers of the reliability of the information provided on the products.
Penalties implemented shall be proportionate to the extent of non-compliance and the number of non-compliant units placed on the market.
Even if the exact eco-design requirements for textile are not known as of today, companies are already proactively thinking about how they can measure and improve the different product parameters: durability, circularity, presence of harmful substances etc. Traceability allows brands to stay ahead of the curve to have a better control on the composition and the environmental characteristics of their products by giving visibility on the suppliers, their processes and the materials used.
Even though traceability will most likely not be sufficient to comply with all the requirements, starting collecting data and building preferred communication channels with the suppliers will give brands a valuable head start for when the delegated acts will come.
How TrusTrace can help?
The TrusTrace Traceability Platform enables brands and suppliers to collaborate on supply chain data to digitally map all the suppliers involved in the making of a specific garment. This way, the brands can communicate with their suppliers to gather product-level information needed for the Digital Product Passport.
If you’re not already doing so yet, begin storing traceability data in one place to anticipate upcoming ecodesign requirements and transparency expectations from consumers. Speak to a TrusTrace expert today to explore how TrusTrace can help your brands scale out traceability efforts. Trace smarter. Trace faster.
Please note: At TrusTrace, we want to keep you informed on laws and regulations, but this information should not be considered or used as legal advice.
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