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Regulation seeking to ensure that only products that meet ecodesign requirements can be placed on the EU market has been published

European Union - 

The regulation, which comes into force on July 18, introduces a digital product passport, which enhances traceability and information on sustainability, prohibits the destruction of unsold products and lays down green public procurement requirements in order to boost demand for sustainable products. 

Regulation (EU) 2024/1781 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 June 2024, establishing a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for sustainable products, amending Directive (EU) 2020/1828 and Regulation (EU) 2023/1542 and repealing Directive 2009/125/EC, was published in the OJEU on June 28, 2024 and will come into force on July 18, 2024.

The regulation seeks to create a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements that products must meet to be placed on the market or put into service, with the aim of improving the environmental sustainability and reducing the environmental impact of products over their life cycle.

The ecodesign requirements will apply to all kinds of physical goods, including components and intermediate products. However, it will not apply to food, feed, medicinal products, plants, animals, micro-organisms, products of human origin, products of plants and animals relating directly to their future reproduction, and certain types of vehicles.

Products that undergo refurbishment or repair, originating from within the Union, will not be considered new products and will be able to circulate within the internal market without needing to comply with the ecodesign requirements established. However, remanufactured products will be considered new products and they will be subject to such requirements.

The ecodesign requirements will be set by delegated acts adopted by the Commission, subject to a dedicated impact assessment and consultation with stakeholders. They should be drawn up in line with the Commission’s Better Regulation guidelines, and should include an assessment of the international dimension and impacts on third countries. The Commission should base its impact assessment on the best available evidence and take due consideration of all aspects of the life cycle of the product. When preparing ecodesign requirements, the Commission should use a scientific approach and take into consideration relevant technical information.

These requirements should include, as appropriate, performance and/or information requirements, and should be aimed at improving product aspects such as durability, reusability, repairability, energy efficiency, recyclability, and carbon and environmental footprints. They will need to be transparent, objective, proportionate and in compliance with international trade rules.

To achieve the aim sought by the new regulation, the Commission will need to carry out a prioritization of products to be regulated and the requirements that will apply to them. Accordingly, it will adopt a working plan covering at least three years in which it will draw up a list of product groups for which it intends to adopt delegated acts, as well as the product aspects for which it intends to adopt delegated acts of horizontal application.

For the first working plan, the Commission should prioritize iron, steel, aluminum, textiles (garments and footwear), furniture (including mattresses), tires, detergents, paints, lubricants, chemicals, information and communication technology products and other electronics, as well as energy-related products.

Digital product passport

In addition, the regulation establishes the obligation to offer a digital product passport as a requirement to be able to place products on the market or put them into service. This tool will include the information specified by the relevant delegated act and in practice must serve to record, process and share electronically information on product sustainability among economic operators (manufacturers, authorized representatives, importers, distributors, dealers and fulfilment service providers) and other value chain actors (such as customers, professional repairers, refurbishers, remanufacturers, recyclers, as well as authorities). The digital product passport is expected to significantly enhance end-to-end traceability of a product throughout its value chain and to help interested parties to make informed acquisition decisions.

Preventing the destruction of products

The regulation also introduces measures to prevent the destruction of unsold consumer products, as it is an unsustainable practice that generates waste and squanders resources. Economic operators, except micro and small enterprises, must disclose the number and weight of unsold consumer products that are discarded each year, and starting July 19, 2026, the destruction of certain apparel, clothing accessories and footwear will be prohibited, unless it is demonstrated that there is no other viable option.

Public procurement requirements

Likewise, the regulation lays down mandatory green public procurement requirements for EU contracting authorities and contracting entities aimed at boosting demand for sustainable products and supporting the achievement of environmental objectives.