The European Commission published a Roadmap setting out further detail on its Sustainable Products Initiative on 14 September 2020. The Sustainable Products Initiative is one of the measures announced in the new Circular Economy Action Plan (see our blog here). It aims to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals and make products placed on the EU market more sustainable, durable, reusable, repairable, recyclable and energy efficient. Which is an ambitious shopping list.

The EU proposals include introducing overarching product sustainability principles, as well as the following specific measures.

  • Expanding the scope of the Ecodesign Directive (2009/125/EC) to cover a wider range of products beyond energy-related products. This will enable minimum sustainability and information requirements to be set at the EU-level for the specific product groups. Priority will be given to addressing electronics, ICT and textiles. Furniture and high impact intermediate products such as steel, cement and chemicals are also listed as product groups that will be addressed
  • New rules to make producers responsible for providing more circular products and intervening before products can become waste. Examples include incentivising product-as-a-service models, introducing requirements to provide repair services and ensuring the availability of spare parts
  • Introducing new requirements on mandatory sustainability labelling and/or disclosure of information using digital product passports
  • Establishing rules for setting mandatory minimum sustainability requirements on public procurement of products
  • Introducing requirements to address social aspects throughout the product lifecycle. There are no details on what this might cover, but the Commission notes that ensuring the accessibility of products and services alongside contributing to social inclusion can have the added benefit of increasing product durability and reusability
  • Introducing measures for production processes to facilitate the use of recycled content and remanufacturing, as well as track the use of hazardous substances
  • Banning the destruction of certain unsold durable goods

The Commission is currently seeking feedback on the Roadmap until 2 November 2020. A public consultation to gather input from stakeholders will be launched later this year, with a legislative proposal expected in Q4 2021.To find out more, or provide feedback on the Roadmap, visit the Commission’s webpage for this initiative here.

If you’d like to learn more about new circular economy developments, the Products Team at Cooley will be hosting a webinar together with Compliance & Risks and Ramboll on “Moving to a Circular Economy” on 24 September 2020. Tune in for an update on existing requirements, and a guide to what’s coming. We’ll be exploring the implications and opportunities presented by these ambitious plans for different product stakeholders. To find out more and register for the webinar visit our blog here.

Posted by Edward Turtle