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News 10 March 2021

UK Government responds to consultation on product design and energy labelling

The UK Government has today (Wednesday 10 March) published its response to the 2020 consultation on product design and energy labelling. Strong product design standards and effective labelling have already reduced emissions and waste from products we buy and use; going forward these should be strengthened and improved.

The consultation asked several questions about how the UK could go ‘at least as far’ as the most recent European Union (EU) requirements. Energy Saving Trust responded, drawing on our years of experience in the areas of product design, standards and labelling, setting out where we thought there were opportunities to go further and work towards a more circular economy. These included:

  • Manufacturers to offer longer warranties on products and build to higher standards.
  • Products to be made more easily repairable with standard tools and parts.
  • Consumers to be given more detailed information about the environmental impact of products through enhanced labelling, enabling them to make more informed decisions.
  • An independent ‘best in class’ label to make purchasing decisions easier.
  • Greater support for market surveillance to ensure products continue to be made to a high standard.
  • Bans on ‘low-hanging fruit’ (eg high-Global Warming Potential refrigerants) where more sustainable alternatives already exist.

The UK Government showed a desire to do this in a 2020 consultation, but their response published today confirmed that, for now, they intend to align with the latest EU standards. However, there are promising signs that the government could go further in the future:

“The feedback provided by stakeholders in this consultation will supplement the evidence gathered by our recent Call for Evidence and, alongside the UK Energy-related Products Policy Study will shape our future policy framework. Our aim is to develop and publish our world class products policy framework in Spring 2021. This was recently announced as part of the Prime Minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution.”

Boris Johnson’s ten point plan touched on these issues, stating that the government would “push for products to use less energy, resources, and materials, saving carbon and helping households and businesses to reduce their energy bills with minimum effort.”

We have published a discussion piece highlighting the impact that improving UK product standards could have, areas where we would like to see more ambition, and existing global case studies from which the UK can draw lessons.

The article has been informed by our work in this area in the UK and internationally.

Last updated: 11 March 2021