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New EU Laws to Support Growth and Investment in the Circular Economy – What UK Traders Need to be Aware of




According to the European Commission, the premature disposal of consumer goods produces 261 million tonnes of CO2-Equivalent emissions, consumes 30 million tonnes of resources and generates 35 million tonnes of waste in the EU each year. Not only that, but consumers also lose about €12bn annually by replacing goods rather than repairing them. 

It is therefore not surprising these new laws aims to support the growth of the circular economy, and it is forecasted that, thanks to these new laws, there will be €4,8bn of growth and investment within the EU. The new laws aim to make both producers and consumers more minded about the durability of goods. 


UK manufacturers currently exporting to the EU need to be up to date with these new laws and understand how it may affect their business. 


So, what are the new EU Laws UK traders should be aware of? 


Ecodesign Regulation 


The new law introduced at the end of 2023 aims at improving various aspects of products throughout their lifecycle ensuring they are more durable and reliable, easier to reuse, upgrade, repair and recycle, therefore using less resources, energy and water. The European commission will introduce specific product requirements through a second legislation.  


Ecodesign requirements also aim to address practices linked to premature obsolescence (when products become non-functionals or less performant due to, for instance, product design features, unavailability of consumables and spare parts, lack of software updates). 

The new legislation must be adopted within nine months of entering into force with a number of products being prioritised such as iron, steel, aluminium, textiles (primarily clothing and footwear), furniture, tyres,  detergents, paints, lubricants and chemicals. 


The new legislation also requires Economic Operators that destroy unsold goods to report annual quantities of discarded products as well as reasons. It has also been agreed to ban specifically the destruction of unsold apparel, clothing and footwear (two years after entering into force the new law and six years for Medium-size enterprises). In the future, the European Commission may introduce more categories to the list of ‘unsold products’ which will be banned for destruction. 


Improvement in product Labelling and banning of misleading commercial practices 


This new ruling, introduced in Jan 2024, aims to protect consumers from misleading marketing practices and help them make better purchasing choices. In line with this, the EU has included greenwashing and the early obsolescence of goods to the list of their banned commercial practices. 


These new rules also seek product labelling clearer and more trustworthy by banning the use of general environmental claims like ‘Environmentally friendly’,  ‘natural’,  ‘biodegradable’, ‘climate neutral’  or ‘eco’ without proof. 


On top of that, the use of sustainable labels will also now be regulated as this has been a point of confusion due to the proliferation and failure to use comparative data. So in the future, only sustainable labels based on official certification schemes or established by public authorities will be allowed in the EU. 


Lastly, the EU will be banning claims that a product has a neutral, reduced or positive impact on the environment because of the emission offsetting schemes. 


Right to Repair 


In April 2024, the EU Parliament introduce a new ‘Right to Repair’ law, which clarifies the obligations for manufacturers to repair goods and encouraging consumers to extend the product’s lifecycles through repair.   


The new rule make sure manufacturers gives timely and cost-effective repair services and inform consumers about their rights to repair. So, if a consumer sends their goods for repair under the warranty, they will benefit from one-year extension of the legal original warranty, which the EU hopes will incentivise consumer to repair instead of seeking a replacement. 


After the legal guarantee has expired, the manufacturer will still be required to repair common household products, which are technically repairable under EU law, such as washing machines, vacuum cleaners and even smartphones. The list of product categories that can be extended over time. 


Consumers may also ‘borrow’ a device whilst theirs is being repaired or, if it cannot be fixed, opt for a refurbished unit as an alternative. 


So this also aims to revitalise the ‘repair’ market and reduce the repair costs for consumers. Manufacturers therefore will have to provide spare parts and tools at reasonable costs and will be prohibited from using contractual clauses, hardware or software techniques that obstructs repairs. They cannot impede the use of second-hand or £D printed spare parts by independent repairers, nor they can refuse to repair a product solely for economic reasons or because it was previously repair by someone else. 


Need help trading with the EU? 


Whether it is new laws like the ones outlined above, or around customs, documentation, VAT or more, our expert team and expert associates are at hand to help! Call us at 0161 393 4314 or email us at international@gmchamber.co.uk  


Sources:  

 

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