New Ecodesign Regulation 2024/1781 published: what economic operators in the EU need to prepare for

On June 28, 2024, the new Ecodesign Regulation 2024/1781 was published in the Official Journal of the EU. The Ecodesign Regulation replaces the previous Ecodesign Directive  and will place companies under new, significantly stricter obligations covering the entire life cycle of a product. 

Reasons and objectives of the revision

The revision of the Ecodesign Regulation is part of the EU's sustainability strategy, the so-called Green Deal, and forms an integral part of the EU's efforts towards a climate-friendly circular economy. It is complemented by the Right to Repair Directive and the Directive on empowering consumers for the green transition 2024/825 (see our Client Alert from February 26, 2024 for a complete overview of the three legal acts).

In contrast to the Ecodesign Directive, which was limited to energy-related products (e.g. washing machines or refrigerators) the scope of the new regulation now extends to almost all physical products. This marks a significant expansion. The regulation also introduces new requirements to make products more durable, reliable, reusable, upgradeable, repairable, easy to maintain, repair and recycle as well as more energy and resource efficient.

As a framework regulation, it does not set its own requirements in terms of parameters to be met, but merely provides the framework for future product-related delegated acts that will "activate" the new obligations. The first legal acts are expected from July 19, 2025. In particular, manufacturers, importers and distributors of iron, steel, aluminum, textiles, especially garments and footwear, furniture, including mattresses, tyres, detergents, paints, lubricants, chemicals, information and communication technology products and other electronics as well as energy-related products should keep an eye on developments in the short term, as these are the first product groups for which the EU Commission is to examine ecodesign requirements. 

Affected economic operators and product categories

The new Ecodesign Regulation targets all economic operators in the distribution and supply chain. Specifically, these are manufacturers, importers, dealers, distributors, authorized representatives of manufacturers, fulfillment service providers and operators of online marketplaces and search engines.

In principle, the scope covers all physical goods that are placed on the market or put into service, including components and intermediate products (Art. 1 para. 2 sent. 1). Excluded are, among others, food, feed, medical devices, plants and vehicles to the extent that harmonization legislation already provides for requirements for vehicles (Art. 1 para. 2 sent. 2); however, e-bikes and e-scooters are explicitly not excluded . In addition, no ecodesign requirements are to be laid down for products whose sole purpose is to serve defence or national security (Art. 5 para. 5).

Most of the requirements will only be enabled by delegated acts. Based on the previous Ecodesign Directive, the EU Commission has already set ecodesign requirements for the following products (among others) Smartphones, mobile phones and slate tablets, various household appliances such as washing machines and dryers and refrigerators, light sources and separate control gear, certain air conditioning devices and fans, as well as certain electric motors.

Overview of particularly important regulations

Obligations of economic operators in connection with the delegated acts to be adopted by the EU Commission:

  • Obligation to comply with performance requirements which are based on the product parameters listed in Annex I and laid down in the delegated acts (e.g. by minimum or maximum values) (Art. 6)
    • Ecodesign requirements will be designed to improve relevant product aspects such as durability, reliability, reusability, upgradability, repairability, possibility of maintenance and refurbishment, energy and resource efficiency, recyclability, etc. (Art. 5 para. 1)
    • Ecodesign requirements shall, where relevant, ensure that products do not become prematurely obsolete, for reasons that include design choices by manufacturers, the use of components which are significantly less robust than other components, the impeded disassembly of key components, unavailable repair information or spare parts, software that no longer works once an operating system is updated or software updates that are not provided (Art. 5 para. 2).
  • Comprehensive information requirements pursuant to Art. 7 (e.g. possibly on the performance of the product in relation to one or more of the product parameters listed in Annex I, including a reparability value, a durability score, a carbon footprint or an environmental footprint); if necessary, by affixing a harmonized label (Art. 16)
  • Obligation to issue a digital product passport (Art. 9), which – depending on the delegated acts – shall or may among others include a unique product identifier, the Global Trade Identification Number (GTIN), user manuals, EU declarations of conformity (see Annex III) 
  • Obligation for manufacturers to indicate their name, registered trade name or registered trade mark, their postal address at which, and the electronic means of communication through which, they can be contacted (Art. 27 para. 6)
  • Obligation of the manufacturer to provide digital instructions for use (Art. 27 para. 7)
  • Obligation to carry out a conformity assessment procedure and to affix the required CE marking (Art. 39 to 47)
  • Information obligations towards market surveillance authorities (Art. 27/29/30)
  • Obligation of actors in supply chains to provide, upon request and free of charge, at manufacturers, notified bodies and competent national authorities with available relevant information related to the products they supply or the services they provide and allow, in the absence of aforementioned information), manufacturers to assess the products they supply or the services they provide and give access to relevant documents or facilities to those manufacturers (Art. 38)

Obligations with regards to consumer products:

  • Duty to disclose information on unsold consumer products, including their number and weight, the reasons for the discarding, and the proportion of discarded products delivered to undergo each of the following activities: preparing for reuse, including refurbishment and remanufacturing, recycling, other recovery including energy recovery, and disposal operations in accordance with the waste hierarchy as defined by Art. 4 of Directive 2008/98/EC
  • Prohibition of the destruction of consumer products listed in Annex VII (Art. 25). The annex is currently limited to apparel, clothing accessories and footwear

Consequences of non-compliance with ecodesign requirements

Companies that fail to comply with the ecodesign requirements face consequences from two sides at once. On the one hand, according to Art. 74 para. 3 of the Ecodesign Regulation, the Member States must be able to (at least) impose fines and temporary exclusion from the award of public contracts. Secondly, according to Art. 76 of the Ecodesign Regulation, consumers are entitled to claim compensation from companies for damages incurred in the event of non-compliance with the Ecodesign Regulation. This obligation applies primarily to the manufacturer, secondarily to the importer or authorized representative, and finally to the fulfilment service provider. The claims for damages can also be asserted by consumer associations on behalf of a large number of affected parties by way of class action, for example through the newly created redress action (see our Client Alert of March 19, 2024 (in German)).

Timeline and outlook

There are numerous transitional provisions in the new Ecodesign Regulation according to which the previous Ecodesign Directive 2009/125/EC continues to apply (see Art. 79 of the new Regulation). The first delegated acts under the new Regulation will enter into force from July 19, 2025 at the earliest (see Art. 4 para. 4 of the Regulation). Following adoption, economic operators will in principle have 18 months to comply with the new requirements (see Art. 4 para. 4 of the Regulation).

We can advise you on all questions relating to the new ecodesign requirements and assist you in adapting your internal company processes. Please feel free to contact our team!

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