Resource efficiency means using the Earth's limited resources in a sustainable manner while minimising impacts on the environment. It allows to create more with less and to deliver greater value with less input.
The European Commission launched a Resource-Efficient Europe flagship initiative as part of the Europe 2020 Strategy, the EU’s growth strategy for smart, inclusive and sustainable economy. It supports the shift towards growth via a resource efficient and low-carbon economy. The Roadmap to a Resource-Efficient Europe sets up a long-term framework for future actions and objectives to be achieved by 2050. More recently these activites at EU level have been complemented with the launch of the Circular Economy Package in December 2015. According to the European Commission this Package will stimulate Europe's transition towards a circular economy which will boost global competitiveness, foster sustainable economic growth and generate new jobs. To help facilitate this transition the Commission accompanied the legislative Package with its Action Plan on the Circular Economy which sets out measures to "close the loop" and tackle all phases in the lifecycle of a product, from manufacture to disposal.
CECED is in favour of further developing the efficient use of resources though sustainable consumption, production and the promotion of a sustainable industrial policy both within the EU and internationally. All sectors and stakeholders have their part to play.
Through producing innovative products that cut energy and water use and improved end-of life recycling techniques, the home appliance industry is already a proven driver of resource efficiency.
The Ecodesign Directive and the Energy Label Directive cover the use phase of our products, which accounts for 80-90% of the industry’s environmental impact. The legislation helps drive the least efficient products from the market, both in terms of energy and water use.
End of Life Product Legislation is also a key element towards a more resource efficient Europe, especially regarding waste electric and electronic equipment (WEEE). The industry has made considerable investments to ensure the recycling and treatment of e-waste and the restriction of hazardous materials in waste products. This has been further enhanced in recent years by the development of WEEE handling and treatment standards at EU level.
CECED recognises that the EU Resource Efficiency policy instruments go beyond eco-design, energy label and waste. The current debate focuses more and more on new concepts and proposals, such as environmental footprinting or the circular economy.
To this extent, CECED advocates that any new legislative requirements aiming to fulfil resource efficient ambitious objectives must be:
- Measureable: only parameters that are embedded within an appliance can be measured on the finished product
- Enforceable: obligations set out in law must be enforceable for all operators that impact on resources
- Relevance in securing environmental benefits: new policies aimed at improving European resource efficiency should complement existing legislation and make an effective contribution to improving resource efficiency and lessening the impact on the environment
- Not harmful to competition at EU level: new legislation must be subject to detailed competitiveness-proofing analysis that carefully analyses how such legislation would impact industry.