As consumers, thinking about our products end of life can be difficult. So far, standardization work related to energy efficiency has mainly focused on the energy efficiency of products during their use phase. The end of life of products was forgotten… but changes are taking place. The need to tackle this issue has since been recognized with the emergence of the circular economy.
The energy performance of products concerns us all with more light being shined on it thanks to European Union efforts to put in place drivers so that our economy shifts from a linear to a circular one. And standards play an important role given the support they bring to European regulation.
Durability, recyclability and reparability
In 2015 the European Commission expressed the wish to extend the energy efficiency approach from the use phase of products to their end of life and to regulate aspects such as durability, recyclability and reparability. The term ‘material efficiency’ encompasses the concept.
Today, EU Ecodesign Regulations are more likely to include material efficiency requirements in addition to regular use phase requirements, and to set thresholds that in the future will be applied during the development of new standards.
Looking ahead to a circular economy
So that manufacturers can check compliances with these future requirements on a level-playing field, harmonized references are needed. The European Commission has requested CEN and CENELEC to pave the way.
The Circular Economy Package released in December 2015 mentions the European Commission’s intention to ‘request to European standardisation organizations to develop standards on material efficiency for setting future Ecodesign requirements on durability, reparability and recyclability of products.’
This has led to the standardization request on ecodesign related to material efficiency, M/543, which was accepted by CEN and CENELEC.
In the past CEN and CENELEC have supported the development of dozens of European Standards by providing ad hoc methods for measuring the energy performance of various products in response to standardization requests issued by the European Commission, thereby supporting the implementation of Directive 2009/125/EC on ecodesign of energy-related products.
Stay tuned for our dedicated article on ecodesign related to material efficiency: M/543.