EU’s Circular Horizon: Final Sprint Towards Product Reparability
Over the last years, sustainability has been among the priorities of the European Union (EU), with a strong focus on circular economy and reparability. The European Green Deal remains one of the key EU policies shaping the twin green and digital transition, as well as the Circular Economy Action Plan, which paves the way for a cleaner and more competitive Europe by including measures across the entire life cycle of products—promoting sustainable consumption and waste prevention and ensuring that the resources used are kept in the EU economy for as long as possible.
Three proposals to improve product reparability
With the upcoming EU Parliamentary elections in June, the current legislative term in the EU is coming to an end, and policymakers are under pressure to wrap up pending legislative proposals beforehand. This is also the case for three key sustainability policy proposals that are focusing on reparability throughout the products’ life cycle: the Ecodesign for sustainable products Regulation (ESPR) aims to ensure better reparability during the production cycle; the Directive on empowering consumers for the green transition wants to promote better reparability information at the point of sale; and the Right to repair Directive would improve access to reparability after sales. Once adopted, the focus will shift towards implementation, and companies need to start preparing for it.
1. Production phase—Ecodesign for sustainable products regulation
The Ecodesign for sustainable products Regulation (ESPR) was published by the European Commission (EC) in March 2022, and it builds on the previously existing Ecodesign Directive, which covers energy-related products. It aims to establish a framework of ecodesign requirements for a broader group of products to improve their circularity, energy performance and other sustainability aspects. Overall, the purpose is to make products more durable, reusable, repairable and less harmful for the environment, among others.
While creating opportunities for product innovation through a more sustainable design of products, the requirements proposed by the ESPR could also lead to increased compliance costs or higher efforts regarding product redesign.
2. At point of sale—Directive on empowering consumers for the green transition
The EC released its proposal for a Directive on empowering consumers for the green transition in March 2022, and it aims to ensure consumers get the right information regarding aspects like the durability and reparability of products before they purchase a product. The proposal also strengthens consumer protection against unfair practices like untrustworthy environmental claims or premature obsolescence.
This proposal could lead to benefits and challenges at the same time for startups and companies, as it would, for example, require them to provide clear and reliable information regarding the products’ environmental impact.
3. After sales – Right to repair Directive
The Right to repair Directive was published in March 2023, aiming to introduce common rules promoting the repair of goods. The Right to repair Directive proposes measures to enhance the repair of products used by consumers, providing an additional dimension focused on the after-sales context.
Such a proposal could bring new business model opportunities, with a focus on developing businesses focused on sustainability. However, it would also pose a series of requirements to comply with, including the need to design products that are easily repairable, or having to offer repair services, which could lead to additional costs.
What does this mean for you?
The above mentioned proposals are still ongoing, but they will likely be adopted within the current legislative term, ahead of the upcoming EU elections. As the focus turns to implementation, it is important for companies to stay up to date and prepare their businesses to comply with the new rules and requirements accordingly. This would entail a variety of steps, from analysing the final legislative text when adopted to understand the potential impact on products, as well as identifying product-related and organizational changes that would be required to ensure compliance with the regulations.
Trilligent, as a global advisory and strategic communications firm, specializes in supporting tech companies offering a wide range of services. In such an exciting time for companies and startups who prepare for a more sustainable future, our expertise in green tech can also help your business navigate the complex EU regulatory environment and make a change in the way your commitment to sustainability is perceived.