ESPR regulations for product durability: new requirements to anticipate

April 24, 2024

Understanding ESPR regulations

The Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) is a European Union (EU) law designed to promote the sustainability of products by integrating environmental criteria right from the design phase. Adopted in 2009 with a scope restricted to ecodesign applicable to energy-related products (Directive 2009/125/EC), the European Commission has completely overhauled the text as part of the Green Pact for Europe. The recasting of this text and its considerable extension to all types of product is a key initiative for achieving the EU's sustainability objectives, notably by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting a circular economy.

Some key points of the new ESPR regulations :

  1. Setting a framework of eco-design requirements: The regulations encourage manufacturers to design products that minimize their impact on the environment throughout their life cycle, from production to end-of-life, by setting out 16 areas that will be displayed to consumers where appropriate.
  1. Creation of a digital product passport: The Commission will adopt texts for each product group listing the requirements for displaying ecodesign information to consumers.
  1. Unsold consumer goods: Regulations will prohibit the destruction of unsold consumer goods.  

In short, the ESPR regulation aims to encourage the design and manufacture of sustainable products, while raising consumer awareness of the environmental impact of the products they buy, thus contributing to the transition to a more environmentally-friendly economy.  

All types of products will be concerned, but priority will be given to products considered to have a high impact, including textiles, lubricants, furniture, chemicals, iron, steel, tires, aluminum, paints and other energy-related products, ICT products and other electronic products.

Digital Product Passport (DPP)

The DPP or "digital product passport" aims to provide detailed information on the environmental sustainability of products. By scanning a data carrier, consumers will be able to easily access this information, which will include features such as durability, repairability, recycled content and spare parts availability for a given product. This initiative is designed to help consumers and businesses make informed purchasing decisions, while facilitating repair and recycling, and improving transparency on the environmental impact of products throughout their lifecycle. In addition, the product passport should facilitate checks and controls for public authorities.

One point to bear in mind is that the DPP must indicate the presence of substances of concern (SoC) in the product. These substances are defined in article 2, paragraph 28, and are made up of 3 categories:

  • Substances of very high concern included in the REACH candidate list;  
  • Substances subject to harmonized classification for certain health or environmental hazards and included in Annex VI of the CLP Regulation;  
  • Substances that have a negative effect on the reuse and recycling of materials in the product in which they are present.  

The co-legislators also added substances regulated by Regulation (EU) No. 2019/1021 on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) to the definition of substances of concern.  

However, ESPR provides for exemptions for certain SoCs.

The result of eco-design

By 2021, the ecodesign measures (Directive 2009/125/EC) in force have had a significant impact, covering 31 product categories. They have generated considerable savings for EU consumers, amounting to 120 billion euros in reduced energy costs. In addition, the annual energy consumption of the products concerned has fallen by 10%.

The proposed Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) represents a major milestone in the European Commission's approach to making products more environmentally resilient and promoting a circular economy. The proposal follows on from the Ecodesign Directive 2009/125/EC, which focuses primarily on energy-related products, but extends its scope to include a wider range of products.

The European Commission claims that "by 2030, the new framework for sustainable products can save 132 million tonnes of primary energy, which corresponds to approximately 150 billion cubic meters of natural gas, almost equivalent to the European Union's imports of Russian gas".

Steps involved in adopting the new ESPR regulation  

The political agreement reached between the two co-legislators must be formally approved by the Parliament and Council in April and May 2024, before it can enter into force in June/July of this year. Once the text has been adopted, the Commission will have an initial period of 6 years to publish the delegated acts, with shorter deadlines for the provisions concerning the ban on the destruction of unsold goods and the adoption of acts to frame the introduction of the digital product passport. These acts will become effective unless the European Parliament or the European Council express objections within 3 months of being notified.


Key dates to know about ESPR regulations

  • December 11, 2019: Adoption of the European Green Deal
  • March 11, 2020: Adoption of the new circular economy action plan
  • September 14, 2020-June 22, 2022: Public consultation and roadmap (Sustainable Products Initiative)
  • March 30, 2022: Adoption of the ESPR proposal (as part of the sustainable products initiative)
  • January 31, 2023-May 12, 2023: Open public consultation (new product priorities for ESPR)
  • December 5, 2023: Commission welcomes interim agreement for more sustainable, repairable and circular products
  • April and May 2024 (provisional indicative timetable): European Parliament and Council votes endorsing the political agreement
  • June/July 2024 (provisional indicative timetable): Entry into force of ESPR
  • Q4 2025-Q1 2026 (provisional indicative timetable) : Adoption of first measures (e.g. on textiles and steel) on eco-design
  • Mid-2027 (indicative timetable): First product requirements apply

Preparing for the ESPR

Companies operating on the EU market are encouraged to take proactive steps to assess the potential impact of ESPR on their products. It is essential to closely follow the process of adopting this regulation and to prepare accordingly to comply with the new requirements to come, particularly for the priority products identified. In addition, companies and professional organizations have the opportunity to contribute to discussions on the development of ecodesign criteria and the PLR as stakeholders, whether in dedicated ecodesign forums or during public consultations.

From a broader perspective, companies are urged to raise awareness of the implications of ESPR among supply and value chain actors, in order to promote a collaborative and coordinated approach to ensuring compliance and sustainability throughout the supply chain.

  • To help you prepare for the ESPR, EcoMundo offers customized consulting services to help you get to grips with the new regulations.  

Contact us now for a free, no-obligation discussion!

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