Ecodesign Directive

A proposal for a new Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) was published in March 2022. It establishes a framework to set Ecodesign requirements for specific product groups to significantly improve their circularity, energy performance and other environmental sustainability aspects.

The EU Ecodesign Directive establishes a framework under which manufacturers of energy-using products are obliged to reduce the energy consumption and other negative environmental impacts occurring throughout the product life cycle. It is complemented by the Energy Labelling Directive (Link to the eceee web site on EL Directive).

The framework eliminates the least performing products from the market, significantly contributing to the EU’s energy and climate targets. Ecodesign also supports industrial competitiveness and innovation by promoting better environmental performance of products throughout the internal market.

Products and measures

Detailed actions are introduced by the European Commission following a process of discussion with key stakeholders and through what the Commission calls implementing measures. Manufacturers who begin marketing an energy using product covered by an implementing measure in the EU area have to ensure that it conforms to the energy and environmental standards set out by the measure.

Alternatives to implementing measures are so called self-regulation, commitments by industry or voluntary agreements. Such agreements have to achieve the same objectives as legislation and fulfil certain criteria.

Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation

The EU’s Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR)  is a set of rules adopted in March 2022. It aims to make durable and repairable products ‘the norm’ in the EU’s single market. The proposal builds on the existing Ecodesign Directive, which currently only covers energy-related products.

The ESPR expands the EU’s existing ecodesign rules, which currently apply to electric appliances, to a wider range of products, including textiles and furniture. The proposal establishes a framework to set Ecodesign requirements for specific product groups to significantly improve their circularity, energy performance and other environmental sustainability aspects. It will establish rules to make producers responsible for providing more circular products – either by providing products as services or ensuring the availability of spare parts to repair them. This will enable the setting of performance and information requirements for almost all categories of physical goods placed on the EU market.

The framework will also allow to set horizontal rules for groups products that share sufficient common characteristics and allow for the setting of a wide range of requirements, including on:

  • product durability, reusability, upgradability and reparability
  • presence of substances that inhibit circularity
  • energy and resource efficiency
  • recycled content
  • remanufacturing and recycling
  • carbon and environmental footprints
  • information requirements, including a digital product passport.

Digital product passports

The Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) introduces a labelling system using a ‘digital product passport’. It will provide information about products’ environmental sustainability.

It should help consumers and businesses make informed choices when purchasing products, facilitate repairs and recycling and improve transparency about products’ life cycle impacts on the environment. The product passport should also help public authorities to better perform checks and controls.

Ecodesign and energy labelling working plans

The current legislation requires that priorities for implementation are established through regularly updated rolling working plans that take stock of progress made and include indicative priorities for new energy-related product groups to be considered. 

The Ecodesign and energy labelling working plan 2022–2024 builds on work done since the adoption of the first Ecodesign Directive, but also include the work required under the Energy Labelling Framework Regulation (EU/2017/1369). It also takes stock of the progress made with the European Product Registry for Energy Labelling (EPREL).

The working plan also includes new energy-related products and updates and increases the ambition for products that are already regulated, as a transitionary measure until the new regulation enters into force. It addresses consumer electronics, such as smartphones, tablets and solar panels.