Yesterday, the European Commission presented its proposal on the Sustainable Products Initiative (SPI), an important step forward in ensuring all products placed on the EU market are designed for sustainability, including durability and non-toxicity.
With today’s proposals, the Commission is presenting the tools to move to a truly circular economy in the EU: decoupled from energy- and resource dependencies, more resilient to external shocks and respectful of nature and people’s health.European Commission
The initiative includes a new Regulation on Ecodesign which introduces minimum requirements for products to be traded on the European market. It therefore has the potential to ensure the most wasteful, toxic products are pushed off the market. The proposed Regulation also foresees the creation of an EU Digital Product Passport to provide comprehensive information on product composition along the value chain. This can offer sustainability relevant information on products and their components such as reusability and recyclability, availability of repair services or parts, and presence of harmful chemicals.
The Digital Product Passport will be key to improve the traceability of substances of concern in products. The next step should be to have transparency on all chemicals in products by 2030, as called for by NGOs.Elise Vitali, Chemicals Policy Officer at the European Environmental Bureau
Addressing sustainability as early as possible at the design stage is critical to reducing resource use, pollution and waste and minimising products’ impact on health and the environment throughout their lifecycle.
The Rethink Plastic alliance welcomes the proposal, however, they argue that “as often, the devil will be in the details, and the success of the SPI will only be demonstrated if the EU’s material footprint is reduced, circular business models are mainstreamed, and presence of chemicals in products is minimised.”
“Today, the European Commission is taking a leap towards a true circular economy, finally addressing negative environmental impacts embedded in product design. This initiative has real potential to make all products placed on the EU market repairable, durable, reusable, energy-efficient and free of hazardous chemicals. However, the success of the initiative will depend on how ambitious future product requirements are, as well as on how swiftly they are adopted.”, said Ioana Popescu, Senior Programme Manager at Environmental Coalition on Standards, for the alliance.
The new Ecodesign Regulation will need to show teeth to effectively regulate harmful substances on the basis of sustainability, and synergies still need to be created with the EU chemical legislation, regulating chemicals based on safety.Elise Vitali, Chemicals Policy Officer at the European Environmental Bureau
Elise Vitali, Chemicals Policy Officer at the European Environmental Bureau also commented that “The SPI is a good step forward for toxic-free products as it recognises that chemical safety is inherent to sustainability.”
The Commission’s proposal will be discussed and amended by the European Parliament and EU countries in the coming months and the Rethink Plastic alliance recommends to further increase the ambition of the text and remove potential loopholes, including the possibility for legally binding acts to be replaced with industry self-regulation.