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Later today, the EU Commission will reveal its Sustainable Products Action Plan, which will detail plans to increase regulation on everyday products to boost their sustainability. The proposal is expected to ramp the environmental standard on a range of household goods like clothes, TVs and smartphones.
Experts have warned that these regulations will likely increase the costs of goods made in Europe, at least in the short term.
Under the proposed Sustainable Products Regulation, EU leaders will demand the products adhere to strict energy efficiency standards, and also to the sticking to the concept of a “circular economy”.
A circular economy is a system where products manufactured have to be designed to become easier to refurbish, repair and maintain.
The proposal also demands that companies create a Digital Product Passport that will contain information about products’ components and recyclability.
This passport will be similar to the bloc’s Ecodesign Directive that issued a mandated energy efficiency labelling in a A to G grading system.
This new passport will include information on the how recyclable a particular product is.
William Neale, adviser for circular economy at the European Commission’s environment department has previously told EURACTIV: “We really need to make sure that the products that are put on our markets are designed to be durable, repairable, and so on.
“So this is what we tried to do in the sustainable product initiative.
“It can be one thing which can ruin a batch, which can render unviable recycling and can contaminate a lot. We need to know about that.
“We can put together a process where we identify those bits of information which are really killers in terms of ruining value if that information is not made available along the line.”
However, these proposals are likely to face pushback from major businesses, especially tech companies who will lobby the Commission to water down these rules.
The EU also looking to tackle the fast fashion industry, with green regulations that will target every stage of the clothing industry including design, repair and recycling.
Clothing manufacturers in the EU will be asked to be eco-friendly, with sustainable made materials.
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These regulations are likely going to make a wide range of EU products cost more and companies scramble to reach environmental standards.
According to a recent study by Netherlands consulting firm Kearny, sustainable or “green” products are generally about 75-85 percent more expensive than conventional versions of that products.
However, Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius that in the long term, these measures will benefit consumers while also saving the environment.
Speaking to Politico, he said: “We are sometimes asked, will this add to the cost.
“In fact, by making well-informed choices, consumers can actually buy goods that serve them longer, and thus allow them to save money.”
These new regulations may also make it harder for EU businesses to compete with products manufactured outside Europe, which may be cheaper due to having relaxed regulations around manufacturing.
Holger Lösch, the deputy chief executive officer of BDI, a top German industry body warned that while the regulations were welcome, the sustainability criteria “must also apply to manufacturers from third countries and be independently verified when imported.”
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