EU places tighter eco-labelling on four more product groups

Personal and portable computers, dishwashers and soil improvers are the latest product groups to complete the EU’s current revision of criteria for eco-labelling, while paints and varnishes will continue with existing criteria for another 18 months until June 2003.

To gain the EU award denoted by a flower logo, dishwasher manufacturers face a major overhaul of product requirements since the existing criteria was introduced in 1998. Machines will need to be more energy efficient with lower water consumption and noise limits. Also, free end-of-life recycling becomes a requirement for the first time, in line with computer criteria, although there is no minimum recyclability requirement for some components as required for computers.

As expected, there are fewer changes for computer manufacturers since existing criteria only dated back to 1999. Exposure limits for electromagnetic emissions, plus increased energy efficiency and product durability, are the main updates, together with a more specific recycling policy. There is also a limit on the mercury content of the background lighting of liquid crystal displays.

Promotion of the use of compost-based products and recycled organic material is the main development for the soil improvers group, plus, the addition of “growing media” to the product group. Lower limits for phosphate and potassium nutrient contents have been introduced to “better reflect market realities”.

Discussions resume this autumn to extend ecolabelling to tourist accommodation, which will be the first service sector to be covered, and as a result is expected to present difficulties in developing criteria. Other new product groups under development include hard floor coverings, televisions, tyres, vacuum cleaners, and furniture and rubbish bags.

The EU eco-label award scheme has been in operation since 1993 when the first product groups were established. These are reviewed every three years to take account of technical improvements and market changes, and a major overhaul of the programme began in 2000 under the management of the EU Eco-labelling Board, EUEB.

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