Environment: Orgalim position on the Sustainable Products Initiative

Published: 8 June 2021

Policies & Issues: Environment

Orgalim represents Europe’s technology industries, providing innovative technology solutions which are underpinning the twin green and digital transitions and can unlock a greener, healthier and more prosperous future for the European Union and its citizens. Our industries welcome the European Commission’s Sustainable Products Initiative as a key measure to further optimise the way resources are used throughout the economy and society. Our industries stand ready to continue providing innovative, cutting-edge technology solutions and sustainable products and to continuously improving the performance and overall sustainability of products, striving for excellence and ensuring that consumers, businesses and the environment benefit from competing, innovative, cutting-edge technology solutions. For our industries, high product quality is a core competitive argument and this goes hand in hand with sustainability, as for example durability is one of the main objectives of the Sustainable Products Initiative.

The Sustainable Products Initiative (SPI) is an important opportunity for a win-win situation for the environment and the economy, and applying digital solutions for product information, such as Digital Product Passports (DPP), could have benefits for some end-users such as consumers as well as for our industries – provided that they are properly designed according to the key principles below:

  • To secure the functioning of the Single Market – one of the EU’s success stories and major achievements –  requirements must be harmonised at EU level. “The stronger the EU Single Market, the better for the circular economy” should be a guiding principle for future action. We are concerned about different national provisions and mandatory requirements on products not aligned with the EU requirements.

  • An impact assessment must always be conducted to ensure that their implementation will be workable, proportionate and will contribute to a circular economy. There must be proven environmental benefits that exceed the costs to industry.

  • Ensuring effective enforcement and market surveillance will be of the utmost importance for the success of the application of the SPI and DPP and will be even more necessary in the future to ensure a level playing field.

  • New requirements for products must follow the New Legislative Framework (NLF) including the application of the CE marking and declaration of conformity. Product requirements must be based on applicable internal market regulations, to ensure a level playing field and to adjust relevant provisions to specifically solve uncertainties related to definitions, requirements and responsibilities of the different actors.

  • Requirements must be based on scientific assessment methods through recognised European or ISO /IEC/ITU international standards and must be reliable and verifiable. Standardisation bodies and global standards should be used in the design of the SPI and DPP requirements.

  • The “SMERC" principle must be applied: 

    • Specific – requirements must be considered on a product group-specific basis. Even within the same product group and within individual categories of equipment in our sector, the products and their environmental impact differ significantly, especially depending on ambient and operating conditions.

    • Measurability – the parameters must be clearly determined and measurement methods must be accurately defined.

    • Enforceability – it must be possible to verify and enforce requirements through market surveillance.

    • Relevance – new parameters and corresponding requirements must be relevant for the environment, the users and applicable even within the specific life cycle phase(s). There must be evidence of clear and significant potential for improvement. 

    • Competitiveness – there must be no significant negative impact on the industry’s competitiveness and the competition must be fair.

  • We support information at product level when it is possible and relevant.

  • The industry should be involved as early and as fully as possible in the development of the SPI and the DPP. The sector know-how is extremely important.

  • The burden put on companies must be proportionate. Additional requirements should be kept as minimal as possible and must be manageable and affordable for SMEs.

  • Information should respect confidentiality related to protectable trade secrets and secure IP protection.

  • There is no one-size-fits-all approach. SPI requirements and DPP must be established on a sector-by-sector and product-by-product basis, taking into account the differences in products (and differences between business-to-consumer B2C and business-to-business B2B products) and the information that is relevant to them. It is very difficult to respond to the Commission SPI public consultation questionnaire because the answers to the questions depend very much on the types of products. Differentiating consumer (B2C) and professional (B2B) products in the context of material efficiency is crucial. Incentive structures, customer behaviour, customer relations, pricing, material composition and market dynamics distinguish both sectors. To carry forward the success of the SPI, a case-by-case assessment remains of high importance. 

  • Requirements should be technology-neutral to ensure a variety of technology options applicable to sustainable design requirements and choices related to material efficiency.

  • Requirements should not hinder the development of new innovations, business models and products. Decisions on technology development, product design and technical requirements must be left to the manufacturers who are the technical experts.

  • The EU should support European companies to put in place theses new SPI and DPP measures as well as the EU Member States who will control these measures.

  • We strongly oppose third-party certification or inspection. Self-assessment is just as valid a procedure and offers the same level of safety benefits as any conformity assessment procedure supported by a third-party (e.g. notified body). Furthermore, it would be unacceptable for industries to be required to bear the costs of third-party certification or inspection because Member States lack the capacity and resources to undertake sufficient market surveillance and enforcement activities.

 

Please download the document above to read our detailed position paper in full. 

Authors

Mittelham
Stéphanie Mittelham
Manager - Energy and Environment

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