Sustainability

Ecological Product Policy

Shaping the EU’s future product policy: we want to make sure products on the EU market benefit consumers and the environment but cut down on wasteful resource use

At the EEB, we strive for an overall reduction in Europe's resource use through more sustainable forms of production and consumption. We want Europe to forge ahead in developing a circular economy which makes the most of resources entering our economic system. The EU should implement stringent, minimum environmental requirements that take the worst performing products, in terms of energy consumption and resource use, off the single market.

Ecological product policy should trigger innovations that design out waste from products and phase out the substances most harmful for the environment and human health. It should encourage recovery of embedded materials. Intelligent standards for design have to ensure products consistently offer better quality or safety, while expanding their durability. The EU has to ensure that sound, harmonised methodologies for life cycle assessment and impact measurement are used to trigger higher product requirements. Product policy has to better integrate different environmental considerations in order to avoid tradeoffs between them. Ecodesign of products must lower the environmental impact of products and cut the import of costly and scarce resources by encouraging re-use, repair, remanufacturing and recycling of their materials. Stringent waste treatment standards combined with expanding producer responsibility can create an incentive for better designing our products.

Technological, societal and market developments may quickly lead to outdated assessments, criteria and requirements. Therefore the EU should favour a more dynamic top performer approach for regularly reviewing and updating EU product policies. We need to put more emphasis on the consistency and interplay of different push and pull instruments for product policy, with a particular focus on reducing/optimising resource use. This requires a better linking of benchmark instruments, such as Ecolabel, with minimum information and performance standards required for all products. Green Public Procurement needs to take a closer look at the environmental benefits of new business models based on delivering services instead of buying products in the first place.

Consumers should receive clear information about the resources used in products to stop the proliferation of misleading green claims. This can ensure good environmental choices, fair competition and comparability between different design options and products. To ensure the carrying capacity of our planet, we need to challenge both the supply and demand sides of our daily behaviour towards products: Ecological Product Policy is a key factor for promoting a more resource saving economy.

For more info, please contact:

Carsten WACHHOLZ

Senior Policy Officer: Product Policy and Resource Conservation
Tel: +32 (0) 2 790 8812

Email