Comments on the Study on Material Efficiency and the Methodology for the Eco Design of Energy-Related Products ('MEErP')

Published: 6 September 2013

Policies & Issues: Energy & Climate

As producers of almost all equipment regulated or currently assessed under the Eco design Directive (2009/125/EC), Orgalime industries are by far the most affected sector. Given the experience gained with the implementation of the Eco design Directive so far, Orgalime would like to provide the following comments related to the suggested development of a material efficiency module for the MEErP methodology:

  • Orgalime supports the EU Resource Efficiency Policy objectives and is committed to continuously improving the overall environmental performance of products within the remits of the Eco design Directive's criteria and procedural aspects.
  • Any aspect of the environmental performance of a product should not be taken in isolation from other environmental aspects. Instead, it is only a truly holistic approach that will deliver sustainable solutions. In that sense, Orgalime fully supports the approach of the Eco design Directive, which addresses all environmental aspects of energy-related products from a life cycle perspective, including resource efficiency.
  • The draft study report of 20 June 2013 shows that, where necessary, relevant resource efficiency parameters, and even material efficiency parameters, could already be addressed and regulated in application of the existing MEErP. Therefore, Orgalime cannot see the need to amend the existing MEErP.
  • In addition, material efficiency, as one element of resource efficiency, still appears a vague concept, while energy efficiency is the main contributor in the sectors Orgalime represents. Much more explanation is therefore needed about deliverables, expectations, how objectives would be translated in concrete requirements or what the consequences and impacts of these resource efficiency requirements would be.
  • Overall, the contractor estimates “the current contribution of Eco design to resource efficiency in the EU in 91.3 Mt of materials saved per year”, while the additional potential of Eco design measures on products could contribute to additional 0.95Mt to 5Mt material savings per year. Considering these findings of the study, the additional improvement potential offered by Eco design of products does in our view, not qualify against the criteria of the Directive and does not justify a change of the MEErP.
  • The proposed material efficiency requirements in our view do also not qualify against the criteria of effectiveness, enforceability, measurability relevance or compatibility with competition, which should be taken into account.
  • Setting up a horizontal list that would be considered critical under Eco design and/or using the EU critical raw material index seems not promising to us. A “one size fits all” approach does not appear appropriate considering the vast range of different products covered by the Directive. Instead, the relevance of this environmental parameter needs to be assessed product by product. Only a case by case assessment of products subject to the Eco design Directive, following a whole life cycle approach, would allow taking into account the impacts and consequences of setting additional resource efficiency requirements on the existing implementation and further product parameters.
  • The suggested new requirements (such as recycled content, disassembly, reusability, recyclability and recoverability) are in our view not useful. The study objective is to achieve a credible methodology and not product requirements. The study neither takes into account if a market exists for reused and recovered equipment, nor the lack of a reusability potential of components and technical properties of secondary materials. Using secondary raw materials in our industry´s products, many of which end up in highly sensitive applications, does not principally depend on price, but primarily on the quality of the recycled material, its reliability, fitness for purpose and traceability, as producers of complex products, whether for consumers or for workers, always remain liable for any product default.  Furthermore, economic aspects and other relevant characteristics, such as quality, safety and reliability of the product, have been ignored by the study. Taking into consideration that more than 40% of our industry’s production costs relate to raw material input and resource consumption, changes affecting raw material prices will have significant impact on costs and therefore the competitiveness of our industry that is a major supplier to all other industries and private consumers.
  • This is the third round of discussions on the implementation methodology of the Ecodesign Directive since its adoption, being noted that the MEErP methodology as reviewed lately to take into account the enlarged scope of the Directive is just being used for the first product groups. We feel that such a high frequency of reviews of the methodology risk undermining the credibility of the instrument, planning security and legal certainty for both, industry and authorities, all the more as the present MEErP allows for addressing resource efficiency parameters. In the light of the Industrial Policy Communication we ask for regulatory stability and predictability.
  • Finally, we would like to outline the following core elements that we see for a successful EU resource efficiency policy:
    • Introduction of a zero-landfill policy without delay
    • The setting of waste collection and recycling targets
    • The setting of quality standards for secondary raw materials
    • The establishment of harmonised treatment standards for priority waste streams through European standardisation organisations
    • Striving for full implementation of the EU waste acquis, and even more for efficient and effective market surveillance and enforcement to stop illegal shipments of (valuable) waste fractions outside Europe; the recent Commission proposal for an amendment of the Waste Shipment Regulation is a positive step in this direction.
    • More cooperation of enforcement authorities for this purpose
    • Placing more emphasis on the consumer for realising resource efficiency objectives
    • The establishment of a deployment roadmap for resource efficient technologies, notably process automation or ICT equipment throughout all market segments, to increase the knowledge about consumption patterns, which is the first step necessary towards changing the current consumption model
    • More acknowledgment of industry´s own resource efficiency activities

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