Eco-design is a broad concept, that is used in a number fields. In terms of waste legislation, eco-design principles are increasingly built into policy frameworks to encourage energy efficiency and decreased resource consumption. This may in turn eliminate the worst performing products on the market and support innovation through market competition.
This can be seen in the UK by the ‘right-to-repair’ rules that came into force in 2021, stipulating that that manufacturers of electronic products must make spare parts readily available, alongside increased energy efficiency standards.
Eco-design is linked to eco-modulated fees whereby the more sustainable a product is deemed, the less the producer will pay under an extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme. Please see our Modulated fees for packaging guide for more information.
Below are some examples of regulatory eco-design measures for packaging, WEEE and batteries.
Much of the existing legislation surrounding packaging is concerned with minimum standards.
For instance, the UK’s Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations outlines basic fit for purpose, safety, and disposal obligations. However, emerging regulatory trends show that eco-design will necessarily have to be incorporated into manufacture. Australia, for example, has mandated that all packaging must be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. Packaging can be made more sustainable by a range of activities such as material minimisation, designing for re-use or designing for recyclability.
Modulated fees for packaging are currently being developed for the packaging EPR regime, which will be operational by 2023. Please see our summary of the 2021 EPR consultation for more information.
An example of this is the EU’s Eco-design Framework Directive. The directive covers a cohort of electronic goods and broadly aims to ensure manufacturers of energy-related products improve energy performance.
For instance, dismantling operations for dishwashers must be implemented to ensure they are easily repairable, and refrigeration products will have to hit efficiency targets by 2023.
The UK will consult on the WEEE regulations at the end of 2021. It is very likely eco-design proposals will be considered. As mentioned in the introduction, certain regulations such as the right to repair have already been implemented under promises made pre-Brexit.
The sustainability of battery design is necessarily becoming increasingly visible within the regulatory field. The EU is currently consulting on new battery regulations that aim to minimise their harmful environmental effects. The proposed measures include, for instance, a 20% increase in portable battery collections by 2025 to 65%, mandatory carbon footprint disclosure for electric vehicle and industrial battery producers and an obligation to reveal the recycled raw material content by 2027.
The UK will consult on reforming the battery regulations soon. Part of the consultation will surround by how much the UK chooses to follow the proposed EU regulations. In any case, the sustainability of battery design will certainly constitute a significant part of future regulatory reform.
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As Policy Manager Louisa provides key support to our team, including preparing reports on environmental policy issues and maintaining awareness of new developments.