European Consumer Organisations in Ecodesign and Energy Labelling
Ecodesign is a broad term often used to describe the design approach that takes into consideration the environmental impacts of a product or system. Many of us might not be aware that a wide range of products commonly found in a household is “ecodesigned” according to European wide criteria.
Through Directive 2009/125/EC or simply, the Ecodesign Directive, the European Union sets requirements for energy-using and energy-related products, aiming at improving their energy performance and reducing other adverse environmental impacts of these products.
Only the products that fulfil the minimum Ecodesign requirements are allowed on the European market. Hence, consumers will be provided with less polluting products over time. However, manufacturers are free and encouraged to provide products that go beyond these minimum requirements. The Energy Label is the instrument that informs consumers on the different levels of energy performance of products and helps them make an informed choice. Transparency and high visibility of the Energy Label to consumers creates incentives for manufacturers to continue improving the energy performance of their products.
Ecodesign and energy labelling measures can deliver major benefits for consumers and the environment. These benefits can be counted in terms of alleviating the environmental impacts of products, decreasing running costs for European households and improving the overall quality of products. For example, changing from an inefficient boiler to an “A” class condensing boiler can cut up to 360 euro annually from a household’s bill.
However, consumer interests in this process are not restricted to energy and cost savings. Consumer information, noise, use of resources (such as water) and testing methods reflecting real-life consumer behaviours are all aspects that can be improved through Ecodesign and energy labelling.
The Ecodesign Directive establishes a group of experts called the "Consultation Forum" of which the two European consumer organisations, ANEC and BEUC, are official members. The Forum supports the European Commission in developing new legislation that has the goal to make products more sustainable.
It is our role to ensure the consumer view is taken into consideration when Ecodesign criteria are established. Our aim is to ensure the measures agreed achieve real savings for consumers and help the environment. In doing so, we take advantage of our own experiences at European level, as well as the experiences of our members at national level. For example, ANEC and BEUC had proposed specific durability requirements to form part of the Ecodesign rules on vacuum cleaners. According to the legislation, vacuum cleaners will not only be more energy efficient from 2017, but their motors will be required to sustain at least 500 hours of use.
As the implementation of the Ecodesign framework Directive to specific product groups entails highly technical discussions, Öko-Institut - Institute for Applied Ecology provides us with technical expertise tailor-made to consumer interests.
BEUC acts as the umbrella group in Brussels for 40 well respected, independent national consumer organisations from 31 European countries. BEUC’s main task is to represent them at European stage and defend the interests of all Europe’s consumers.
ANEC is the European consumer voice in standardisation representing consumer organisations from 33 European countries in the creation of technical standards, especially those developed to support the implementation of European laws and public policies.
Öko-Institut is a leading European research and consultancy institute working for a sustainable future. Founded in 1977, the institute develops principles and strategies for realising the vision of sustainable development globally, nationally and locally.
To learn more about the views of European consumer organisations on Ecodesign and Energy Labelling please consult our position papers and factsheets.
Message to the European Parliament - July 2016
MEPs can help consumers save more money when they vote on July 6th about energy labels. Here is how.
The well-known energy label has become part of our shopping landscape for a long time. When we buy new appliances such as a vacuum cleaner or a dishwasher, we all like to rely on the green to red scale to choose appliances which save money when we use them.
Unfortunately this valuable label has become confusing since A+, A++, A+++ classes were introduced. Over 75% of consumers who looked for a new washing machine believed that the A+ class is the most energy-efficient one. It is actually the least efficient.
This must stop if we want consumers to choose their products based on accurate information. Going back to the previous A-G scale is a win-win for both consumers’ wallets and the environment.
BEUC urges the European Parliament to swiftly start negotiations with the Council. The earlier European Parliament and Council agree on a common ground, the earlier consumers will get correct information about how energy efficient their appliances are.
Our infographic "How much consumers
Our letter to all members