On 12 July 2023, the European Parliament agreed its negotiating mandate on the proposed Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR). As we discussed in this May 2022 blog post on the circular economy package, the ESPR is a broad regulation that would repeal and replace the existing Ecodesign Directive. Once adopted, the ESPR will give a mandate for the European Commission to adopt sustainability requirements for any type of product, which would be a big extension of the current framework that only applies to energy-related products. If the European Parliament’s position is accepted, the ESPR also would ban the destruction of unsold textiles, footwear, and electrical and electronic equipment (EEE).
What is the European Parliament’s position?
The European Parliament states that its negotiating mandate ‘strengthens the measures proposed by the Commission to ensure longer product lifespans and better-informed consumers’. Amongst other things, the European Parliament’s proposal:
- Identifies certain high-impact product groups to be prioritised when setting new ecodesign requirements – including textiles, iron, steel, aluminium, furniture, tyres, paints and chemicals.
- Introduces a specific ban on destroying unsold textiles, footwear and EEE. This ban would be applicable for one year after the ESPR enters into force. This goes further than the European Commission’s proposal which only required information on the destruction of unsold consumer products to be published and stated that any bans on the destruction of unsold consumer goods could be introduced later via secondary legislation. It also goes further than the European Council’s position which, although it proposed a ban, would only apply to apparel or clothing accessories (not to footwear and EEE) and included a three-year transition period, rather than the one-year period proposed by the European Parliament.
- Introduces a ban on premature obsolescence, prohibiting manufacturers from limiting a product’s lifetime via design features.
Although many green organisations were happy with the European Parliament’s position, some environmental campaigners and policy organisations were disappointed that it failed to address the risks of noncompliant products sold via online marketplaces. Given the focus on products sold via online marketplaces in other pieces of legislation (e.g., the recently adopted General Product Safety Regulation), we would not be surprised if this is raised again during the negotiations.
What are next steps?
As the European Parliament and Council have now defined their respective negotiating positions, the ‘trilogue’ negotiations will begin shortly, during which the European Parliament and Council will seek to finalise and adopt the law. Although the length of time it takes for trilogue negotiations to conclude can vary, we estimate that the ESPR will be adopted at some point before the end of 2023, with the rules applied to specific product groups via delegated acts starting to apply in 2025 or 2026.