EU adopts “Sustainable Products Initiative” for more circular economy

The European Commission agrees: products must be a new source of raw materials to reduce waste

EU Commission initiative for sustainable products
Source & Copyright by Freepik

Author: Sidney Kadziolka

With the basic concern of integrating more sustainable products into the European market, the EU committee decides that the currently existing Ecodesign Directive is no longer sufficient. We live in a throwaway society, but resources are finite and there must be alternatives.

Once a phone's battery is dead, it's not easy to fix. Germans buy a new mobile phone about every two to three years in order to always be up to date with the latest technology. With the new EU directive, products should therefore be usable in the second and third generation in the future. We ask ourselves: Is this even possible in a constantly growing and increasingly innovative society?

Make sustainable production the norm in Europe

The Commission calls for "Sustainable Products Initiative" stricter requirements for sustainable production, durability and circularity. The EU is planning to advance the circular economy with new manufacturing processes that use less energy and raw materials. Accordingly, the new regulations should apply to all products except food, animal feed and medicines. Previously, the Ecodesign Directive only applied to energy.

An update of EU consumer rules was also proposed to raise awareness of the green transition in society. Dealers are obliged to provide information about the service life and repairability of products. This should enable consumers to make informed and environmentally friendly decisions when buying products. In addition, there should be one greenwashingBan under the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. For example, statements about future environmental performance without clear, objective and verifiable commitments and without an independent monitoring system are classified as misleading.

The textile strategy - the end of "Fast Fashion"

Above all, the new requirements are intended to textiles become more durable. Because clothing in particular is not produced sustainably and often at the expense of human rights. In order to be able to recycle these more efficiently, the admixture of cheap synthetic fibers must be prevented. In Europe, around 11 kilograms of textiles are thrown away per capita every year. In addition, the destruction of returns and unsold goods will be prohibited in the future. "fast fashion" should go out of fashion, the willingness and necessity for this are a basic requirement on the part of politics. The Commission expects the regulations to have a positive effect on global production in the textile sector.

Ecodesign regulations so far only for energy

Both the pandemic and the attack by Russia show how urgent it really is to save resources and energy and that we need a self-sufficient economy. The eco-design directive, which previously only applied to energy-related products, has already saved energy costs of 120 billion euros. According to calculations by the EU Commission, more than 2030 billion cubic meters of natural gas could be saved by 150 thanks to the new directive - which roughly corresponds to the import volume from Russia.

Critics say that these regulations resemble a planned economy. The thorough regulation and the resulting enormous bureaucracy could prevent future innovations. However, the resolutions are an essential building block in order to achieve the goals of the Green Deal by 2050. The Commission's proposals will now be discussed in the Council and the European Parliament. As soon as the member states accept these proposals and implement them into national law, consumers* will have the right to legal remedies in the event of infringements.

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