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Ecodesign working plan 2016-2019

EESC opinion: Ecodesign working plan 2016-2019

Background

On 30 November 2016, taking the opportunity of the Energy Union Winter Package, the Commission published a new working plan on ecodesign under the Ecodesign Directive. This working plan describes the state of play of the directive's implementation and presents the overall benefits in terms of the energy savings it has brought to the European economy so far. It also identifies working priorities up until 2019 as well as product categories to be looked at. Moreover, it sets some guidelines on how the Ecodesign Directive could contribute more efficiently to the Circular Economy Action Plan, by further integrating considerations connected to material efficiency (beyond just energy efficiency), reusability, reparability, recyclability, upgradeability, etc. It is therefore an essential part of the EU agenda towards a circular economy.

Relevant opinions

Related links and documents

EESC members only

Key points:

The scope of the Ecodesign Working Plan 2016-2019 is too limited to be a strong driver for wholesale change in behaviour through the supply chains of goods and services at a pace that would reflect the ambition of the Circular Economy Action Plan.

The ecodesign of goods and services needs to go beyond just energy considerations. Although these are important, there is a need to have a focus on the full lifecycle of products, including their durability, ease of maintenance and repair, potential for sharing and digitisation, reuse, upgradeability, recyclability and actual uptake after use in the form of secondary materials in products entering the market.

Ecodesign needs to incorporate the principles of the circular economy, in the context of digitisation, sharing and the functional economy, in order to have consistency across the various strategies that are intended to deliver a new economic model.

The component parts of a product should be easily recoverable for reuse and/or remanufacture and drive the creation of a strong secondary raw materials market.

Labelling requirements can drive improved ecodesign strategies and help consumers in decision making, thus becoming a driver for behavioural change. Labelling should include a life expectancy of a product, and/or its important components.

The EESC reiterates it support for the use of Extended Producer Responsibility as a tool to promote the transition to circular economy business models, and emphasises that this too can play a role in the promotion of ecodesign.