policy impact with FIPRA
Sustainable Products Initiative: A horizontal framework for value retention of products
The Sustainable Products Initiative (SPI) which has been portrayed as the “flagship” file of the European Commission´s Circular Economy Action Plan, is expected to be adopted on 30 March. From the latest insights, the SPI would take the form of a communication that will act as a horizontal framework delivering overarching rules for product sustainability in the EU, while leaving specific product requirements to secondary legislation. This Communication will also include an Ecodesign Regulation proposal (that will repeal the Ecodesign Directive), a new framework to empower consumers, and a strategy for sustainable textiles.
Circularity in the design
The intention behind the SPI is to make sustainable products the norm in the European market. The SPI Communication will include a proposal to repeal the Ecodesign Directive, and transform it into a regulation that will go beyond the scope of the existing directive, by addressing products that do not necessarily have an energy component. The new Ecodesign Regulation will list the design requirements for certain product groups such as electronics, textiles, chemicals and furniture, and also suggest the steps it will take to make them more sustainable.
These “sustainable by design” requirements will make targeted products more durable, reusable, repairable, recyclable, renewable and energy efficient”.However, these requirements would have different impacts on each product, on the basis of what will be regulated at a later stage through the related single product delegated act. It goes without saying that the debate on Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) will also have a greater role in the coming months, to better understand what methodologies the Commission intends to use in order to establish the sustainability of single products or product categories.
Together with the SPI, the Commission will publish a three-year work plan with a list of products it will regulate through delegated acts. According to the Commission sources, the first delegated acts will target the textile and construction sectors as both can play a significant role to achieve full circularity objectives.To make SPI a success, the legislative body needs common definitions for circularity that will enhance the durability and the recyclability of products, incentivise responsible manufacturing, and create a level playing field for recyclability.
To make SPI a success, the legislative body needs common definitions for circularity that will enhance the durability and the recyclability of products, incentivise responsible manufacturing, and create a level playing field for recyclability.
ARNAUD VAN DOOREN, senior account executive, Green Transition Team
Data at the core
Finally, it is important for consumers to be at the center of the SPI conception as well, as they are on the front line when it comes to product use. Providing consumers with all the necessary information to compare and assess products is essential in order to drive sustainable consumption choices.
The EU digital product passport (DPP) will be one of the main new tools at the core of the upcoming regulation, and will be a stepping-stone for the SPI framework as it will give full access to information about product environmental performances and will allow private providers to develop apps and services that can help improve the ability of consumers to assess products and also compare them. The value of the product would be based on data and if you lose data, you lose the value retention of the product. However, digital product passports will not replace physical labels at the point of sale, which will continue to play an important role for consumers. A comprehensive and harmonised EU labelling is still primordial.
The value of the product would be based on data and if you lose data, you lose the value retention of the product. However, digital product passports will not replace physical labels at the point of sale, which will continue to play an important role for consumers. A comprehensive and harmonised EU labelling is still primordial.
Paolo Francesco Perrella Festa, Consultant, Green Transition Team
Transparency and regulatory concerns
The fact that this horizontal framework leaves the details on requirements for specific products to delegated acts, is a question mark for the transparency of the debate. Several Members of the European Parliament expressed concerns about the use of delegated acts as the primary way to regulate individual product groups, as it would deprive the Parliament to take part in the discussion. Indeed, the success of the Commission’s Communication on SPI will depend on its ability to consider sectors specific realities, while keeping ambitious targets and objectives at the same time.
Hopefully, the legislation will define better how it interacts with specific products legislation and provide clear and tangible guidelines and definitions for the sectors covered, as well as a proper methodology to work in a transparent and collaborative manner on the next steps.
– Written by Paolo Francesco Perella Festa and Arnaud Van Dooren