Many of the earth’s natural resources are being depleted at an unsustainable rate. In addition, the gasses that deplete the ozone layer and cause climate change also continue to rise. To try and stem these effects, the European Commission has introduced a number of initiatives and legislative measures, including the introduction of a Circular Economy Action Plan.
While legislation is an essential tool for ensuring a level playing field that sets criteria to be met by products, it typically does not stipulate how limits should be measured. That is where standards fit in. Legislation supported by standards has, for some time now, provided consumers with products that are more energy efficient, thereby lowering energy consumption, and reducing the quantity of carbon emitted into the atmosphere. Moving forward, the Circular Economy will require products to be more frugal with the quantities of materials used, thereby maintaining value and utility for as long as possible.
The European Commission recognises that European Standards are essential complementing tools to EU legislation for a circular economy, supporting, among others, the Ecodesign and the Energy Labelling Regulations. Consequently, the European Commission requested the three European Standardization Organizations – CEN, CENELEC and ETSI – to develop standards on material efficiency that would establish future ecodesign requirements on, amongst others, durability, reparability and recyclability of products.
In order to respond to the standardization request issued by the Commission, it was decided to set up the CEN-CENELEC Joint Technical Committee 10 on Energy-related products - Material Efficiency Aspects for Ecodesign (CEN-CLC/JTC 10).
As mandated by the European Commission, CEN-CLC/JTC 10 prepares (with one exception, EN 45558) general standards with a wide applicability to provide a common framework for the development of future product-specific standards.
The first two standards developed by CEN-CLC/JTC10 were released on 1st March 2019. They are:
EN 45558:2019 ‘General method to declare the use of critical raw materials in energy-related products’
At the core of circularity and resource efficiency are the critical raw materials, which are crucial to the European economy and essential to maintaining and improving the quality of life. Providing information on the use of critical raw materials (CRMs) within energy-related products will consequently facilitate the move to a more circular economy.
EN 45558:2019 distinguishes between regulated and non-regulated CRMs and assist users (manufacturers and their suppliers) to make CRM declarations, giving the supply chain some level of certainty regarding what to report, how to report and a standardized mechanism to communicate the data throughout the supply chain. To achieve this, EN 45558 builds upon EN IEC 62474 standard on material declaration.
EN 45559:2019 ‘Methods for providing information relating to material efficiency aspects of energy-related products’
If society, consumers and industry are to maximise the potential for utilising materials contained within products in an efficient manner then it needs appropriate information. Such information could be provided voluntarily or be stipulated by legislation. EN 45559 establishes a general method, including rules and formats, for the provision of information related to the material efficiency aspects of energy-related products.
This method can be used as a basis to develop product publications in gathering all relevant information on material efficiency aspects in a uniform and structured way, taking into consideration not only the material efficiency topic, but also data sensitivity, the target audience and the most suitable communication method.
Therefore, EN 45559 supports the development of effective communication strategy for material efficiency, ensuring effective communication by the information provider and, in return, increasing the likelihood of good understanding by the receiver of that information. It also describes how intended audiences (end-users, professionals or market surveillance authorities) should be taken into account, along with data sensitivity levels, as well as the most suitable means of communication and media for providing the material efficiency information.
Moreover, this standard is intended to be used by product Technical Committees as input for the development of a communication strategy in horizontal, generic, product-specific, or product-group publications.
The two standards were developed by the CEN-CENELEC Joint Technical Committee 10, whose Secretariat is held by NEC, the Dutch Electrotechnical Committee.
For more information, please contact Mercedes Mira Costa