On 30 March 2022, the European Commission published its long-awaited Circular Economy Package, including a legislative proposal on ecodesign for sustainable products, a legislative proposal for the revision of the Construction Products Regulation, and a Strategy for sustainable Textiles. In parallel, the Commission also proposed to update the EU consumer rules to empower consumers to take informed and environment-friendly choices when buying their products. All the new initiatives will contribute to the ambition set under the EU Green Deal, to achieve climate neutrality and foster a more sustainable lifestyle in Europe, and beyond.
The Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) will be the cornerstone of the EU’s circular economy action plan. It will set the general framework to make all products entering the EU market sustainable – with the exception of food, feed and pharmaceuticals. This will be done through a review of the current Ecodesing Directive, expanding its scope beyond energy-related products.
The new ESPR will introduce the following aspects:
- Broad sustainability requirements, from durability and reusability to recycled content, expected waste generation, and products environmental footprint.
- New attention to chemicals and particularly “substances of concern”, giving a nod to specific categories under REACH and CLP, as well as those compounds that could negatively affect the re-use and recycling of materials. Chemicals will now be considered from a sustainability point of view and tracked throughout the product’s lifecycle, if the proposal is adopted.
- Mandatory digital product passports, which will be mandatory for products placed on the market, aiming to help consumers with their choice and ensure the flow of information across the whole value chain.
- Mandatory green public procurements.
All these new requirements will be further developed and completed by secondary legislation (so called delegated acts) that will be adopted in the course of the next years. These acts will enable the implementation of the technical aspects of the new Regulation, tailored to specific product groups, depending on the specificities of each sector.
- Until 2024, the Commission will continue its work under the current Ecodesign Directive, bringing further reductions in energy use as well as material consumption from energy-related products, now including additional products.
- After 2024 – when the new Regulation will be adopted – the new rules will apply to products that are not energy-related. Not all products will be addressed at the same time, and process with higher environmental impact will have the priority. Products as textiles, furniture, detergents and intermediate product as iron and steel may have the priority.
- By end of 2022, the Commission will launch a public consultation, to identify the product groups to be addressed with priority.
- The European Commission is expected to launch another public consultation on the first Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation by the end of 2022.
The European Parliament and the Council will start their scrutiny on the proposal. The process leading to the adoption lasts on average 18 months. The proposal could be adopted in Q4 2023 / early 2024.
The revision of the Construction Products Regulation has the following objectives:
- As the CPR is not fit for the EU’s green and digital transition, the revised rules will address the sustainability performances of construction products, enable the construction ecosystem’s contribution to meeting climate and sustainability goals, and embrace the digital transformation.
- Ensure a smooth functioning of the Single Market and free movement of construction products and ensure that harmonised standards contribute to the competitiveness of the ecosystem and reduce market barriers.
To achieve the objectives set in the revised rules, manufacturers will have to:
- Deliver environmental information about the life-cycle of their products;
- Design and manufacture a product and their packaging in such a way that their overall environmental sustainability reaches the state-of-the-art level;
- Give preference to recyclable materials and materials gained from recycling.
- Respect the minimum recycled content obligations and other limit values regarding aspects of environmental sustainability;
- Make available, in product databases, instructions for use and repair of the products;
- Design products in such a way that re-use, remanufacturing and recycling are facilitated.
When & Who?
- The European Parliament and the Council will start their scrutiny on the proposal. The process leading to the adoption lasts on average 18 months. The proposal could be adopted in Q3 2023 / early 2024.
- The legislative framework set under the CPR will be further developed and completed by secondary legislation (so called delegated acts) that will be adopted in the course of the next years. This process will involve the European Commission, European Parliament and the Member States.
- The Commission will present a report on the implementation of the new CPR no sooner than 8 years after its entry into force.
Under the Circular Economy Action Plan in 2020, the European Commission announced its ambition to make the textile sector more sustainable, by exploiting its potential for circularity. On 30 March 2022, an EU Strategy on Sustainable and Circular Textiles in the EU was published. It is a non-binding document, closely linked with the Sustainable Products Initiative, paving the way for several actions in the coming months & years.The strategy aims at creating a coherent framework with a clear ambition for 2030. In specific, by 2030 textile products should, inter alia, be long-lived and recyclable, to a great extent be made by recycled fibres, be free of hazardous substances and be produced in respect of social rights and the environment.
The strategy set a series of actions and principles to be developed in conjunction with other EU legislation in the upcoming years:
- Introducing mandatory Ecodesign requirements;
- Stopping the destruction of unsold or returned textiles;
- Tackling Microplastics pollution;
- Introducing information requirements and a digital product passport;
- Green claims for truly sustainable textiles;
- Extended producer responsibility (EPR) and boosting reuse and recycling of textile waste
- Addressing fast fashion, by reversing the overproduction and overconsumption of clothing;
- Supporting research, innovation and investments;
- Developing the skills needed for the green and digital transitions;
- Due diligence for environmental and social fairness;
- Addressing the challenges linked to the export of textile waste.
When & Who?
- The Strategy lists 24 actions, that will be developed between 2022 and 2024. EU funds to support R&D in textiles will be available until 2027.
- The strategy is a non-binding document, and as such it will not pass through a legislative scrutiny. However, its implementation will involve all the EU Institutions which will have to agree on how to make actions a reality.
Already in 2020, with the New Consumer Agenda and the Circular Economy Action Plan, the European Commission announced its intention to address consumer behaviour to achieve climate and environmental objectives under the European Green Deal. With the new legislative proposal, the Commission aims at empowering consumers to make informed and environment-friendly choices when buying products (e.g. a right to know how long a product is designed to last for and how, if at all, it can be repaired). The new rules will strengthen consumer protection against untrustworthy or false environmental claims, banning ‘greenwashing’ & practices misleading consumers about the durability of a product, including strong actions against planned obsolescence.
1) Amend the Consumer Rights Directive to oblige traders to provide consumers with information on products’ durability and reparability;
2) Amend the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD) by:
- Expanding of the list of product characteristics about which a trader cannot mislead consumers, with a view to cover the environmental or social impact, as well as the durability and reparability;
- Adding new practices considered misleading after a case-by-case assessment, and such claims should also be supported by an independent monitoring system to monitor the progress of the trader with regard to the commitments and targets;
- Adding new practices to the existing “black list” of prohibited unfair commercial practices.
When & Who?
- The European Parliament and the Council will start their scrutiny on the legislative proposal. The process leading to the adoption lasts on average 18 months. Adoption of the final legislation could happen in Q4 2023 / early 2024.
- Member States will have to transpose EU rules into their national systems by 18 months from adoption of the EU legislation (e.g. by end of 2025 TBC).
- Application of provisions at national level by 24 months from adoption of EU legislation (by end of 2026 TBC).