The Environment Committee recently presented its recommendations to revise the EU’s ecodesign framework for sustainable products, calling attention to their desire for environmentally friendly, circular, and energy-efficient products throughout their lifecycle.

The focus is on longer product lifespans and empowering consumers to make informed choices. The ecodesign framework would prohibit premature obsolescence, preventing manufacturers from limiting a product’s lifespan through design features. Manufacturers would be required to provide software updates, consumables, spare parts, and accessories for a reasonable duration. Additionally, products should be designed to be easily repairable, and consumers should have access to repair guidelines.

The Committee on the Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety (ENVI) adopted its position on the ecodesign framework with an overwhelming majority, with 68 votes in favour, 12 against, and 8 abstentions. The report is scheduled for adoption during the July 2023 plenary sitting, and it will serve as Parliament’s negotiating position with EU governments to finalise the legislation.

To enable informed decision-making, every product would be accompanied by a “product passport” containing accurate and up-to-date information. This passport would assist consumers and businesses in making choices, facilitating repairs and recycling, while also increasing transparency about the environmental impact of their purchases. An online platform would allow consumers to compare product passports.

Ban on the destruction of unsold textiles, footwear and electricals

The proposed rules as part of the ecodesign framework also address the issue of unsold products being destroyed. Economic operators engaging in the destruction of unsold goods would be required to report the number and percentage of products discarded annually, along with the reasons for such actions. Based on this information, the European Commission would identify products that should be subject to a ban on destruction. Specifically, the report calls for a ban on the destruction of unsold textiles, footwear, and electrical and electronic equipment within a year of the law’s implementation.

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Priority products

In its first working plan, the European Commission would prioritise several product groups, including:

  • Textiles (particularly garments and footwear)
  • Steel
  • Aluminum,
  • Iron
  • Furniture
  • Tires
  • Detergents
  • Paints
  • Lubricants
  • Chemicals

Rapporteur Alessandra Moretti said: “It’s time to end the ‘take, make, dispose’ model which is so harmful to our planet, our health, and our economy. This law will ensure that new products are designed in a way that brings benefits to all, respects our planet’s boundaries, and protects the environment. Sustainable products will become the norm, allowing consumers to save energy, make repairs easier, and make smart environmental choices when they shop, saving themselves money in the long run.”

Th ecodesign framework aligns with the EU’s broader circular economy package, which includes a strategy for sustainable textiles and a proposal to empower consumers for the green transition.