Symbolbild zur Ökodesign-Verordnung: Container
27.05.2024 | KPMG Law Insights

Agreement on ecodesign regulation: products to become more sustainable

After lengthy negotiations, the Council and Parliament of the European Union reached a provisional agreement on the Ecodesign Regulation on the night of December 5, 2023. This is based on a proposal by the EU Commission dated March 30, 2022. The regulation lays down minimum requirements for the environmental compatibility of products sold in the EU. The aim is to ensure that fewer products are thrown away. This is to be achieved by making products more sustainable. Almost all types of goods are affected. The new Ecodesign Regulation is directly applicable in the Member States. It is intended to replace the 2009 Ecodesign Directive.

Expected scope of application of the new Ecodesign Regulation

The Ecodesign Regulation will apply to almost all product categories in the foreseeable future. Foodstuffs, animal feed, medicinal products and living organisms as well as motor vehicles are excluded. The regulation thus creates a harmonized framework for defining requirements for certain product groups in order to not only make them more energy and resource efficient – as provided for in the previous Ecodesign Directive from 2009 – but also to improve their durability, reliability, reusability, retrofittability and reparability and to make them easier to recycle and maintain.

Prohibition of the destruction of unsold goods

The destruction of unsold textiles and shoes is to be prohibited under the ordinance. Economic operators who destroy other unsold goods are expected to report annually on the quantity of products they dispose of and the reasons for doing so. Small and micro-enterprises are to be exempt from the ban, while a six-year exemption is to apply to medium-sized companies. The ban is to take effect two years after the regulation comes into force. The ban on destruction could be extended. This is because the Commission may add further products to the list in the coming years.

Digital product passport for better informed consumers

The European legislator also wants to promote the digitalization of products with the Ecodesign Regulation. Similar to the new European Battery Regulation, a “digital product passport” will provide information on the environmental sustainability of products. According to the agreement text, the EU Commission will also operate a public web portal that consumers can use to search for and compare the information contained in the product passports. The product passport is designed to help consumers and companies make informed purchasing decisions. The passport is also intended to benefit authorities by facilitating checks and controls.

Time frame

Both the industry and the European Member States have 18 months from the adoption of the delegated act to adapt to the new ecodesign requirements and adapt their products. In some duly justified cases, however, the Commission may also set an earlier date for application. To be on the safe side, companies should therefore familiarize themselves with the new regulation at an early stage and take measures.

Conclusion and outlook

The agreement between the Council and the European Parliament is an important step towards a sustainable future. It is part of the EU’s efforts to reduce environmental pollution and promote the transition to a climate-neutral economy. The EU is thus sending a further signal of its commitment to combating climate change and promoting a sustainable circular economy. The final adoption of the regulation is expected as soon as the technical details have been clarified. Adoption before the European elections in June 2024 is considered likely. The Belgian Presidency, which will take over the Presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2024, says it will focus on completing the remaining work on the Ecodesign Regulation.

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