Good news for consumers: members of the European Parliament took an important step today to make sustainable products the norm. Following an ambitious report from the Parliament’s environment committee agreed upon in June, today’s plenary vote has finalised the Parliaments position on the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR).
The ESPR represents an important milestone in Green Deal legislation and will become the cornerstone of Europe’s product policy. It will replace the existing Ecodesign Directive, which is one of the EU’s most effective climate policies to date, ticking all the boxes: it substantially contributes to energy savings, cuts consumer electricity bills, while creating thousands of jobs and making products more repairable. Simultaneously, it advances a level playing field for industry. The proposal adopted today broadens the scope of ecodesign beyond energy products to anything from textiles, toys and furniture as well as intermediaries like steel. It also introduces new policy options such as introducing a product passport.
The EEB praises the Parliament’s vote today which confirmed a number of improvements on the Commission’s original proposal. Key additions made by the Parliament include:
- Identifying high impact product groups to be prioritised in secondary legislation
- Strengthening the approach for tracking and restricting substances of concern found in products
- Introducing an outright ban on the destruction of unsold electronics and textiles
- Providing clearer measures to support a right to repair products and prevent early obsolescence
A blind eye on non-compliant online imports
The parliament failed to respond to calls from campaigners and industry to address the risk of non-compliant products entering the European market through online sales. On this point, the Parliament further reduced already weak responsibilities for online marketplaces. Effectively a green light to continue to flood the market with unsustainable products. Online marketplaces and retailers based outside the EU commonly sell products that do not meet European sustainability and safety requirements.
Campaigners also regretted that the Parliament’s position left open the possibility for weak voluntary initiatives to substitute legal requirements, and social sustainability and due diligence remained out of the scope.
Jean-Pierre Schweitzer, Policy Manager for Circular Economy at the EEB said:
“On an important day for environmental policy making, the European Parliament’s vote on ecodesign introduces a much needed toolkit to drastically reduce the impact of our everyday products. Building on the success of ecodesign and energy labeling the new regulation should save emissions and consumer expenditure. It is regrettable, however, that lawmakers continue to ignore the risk of non-compliant products entering the market from online sales - creating unfair competition for European industry and undermining the effectiveness of future requirements.”
The Commission’s proposal on ESPR was published in March 2022. In May 2023 the European Council agreed upon a general approach. Now that the three institutions have defined their positions the legislation will be finalised in trilogues. Trilogues are hoped to commence quickly under the Spanish presidency.