Navigating the new era: How global legislation is redefining product durability and sustainability
Product durability has become a hot topic in light of several emerging sustainability legislations. These legislative measures seek to communicate to the consumer the durability of products, and end the relationship between fast, low-cost consumption that results in significant environmental impacts.
Market drivers have also had an impact on product durability: amid a fiercely competitive marketplace intensified by the cost-of-living crises, brands need to show that their products are fit for purpose to adhere to industry best practices and mitigate legal risks.
Eurofins durability verification service
In light of these legislative changes, in 2023, Eurofins launched their new Durability testing service, to provide customers with a service that shows their products go above and beyond consumer expectations. The benefits of Eurofins durability testing and verification marks are as follows:
- Differentiate products in the market via credible, independent 3rd party assessment.
- Demonstrate elevated performance above normal industry standards.
- Helps support sustainability claims.
- Raise customer satisfaction in product performance and longevity.
- Supports your compliance journey for existing and forthcoming sustainability-related legislation and principles
Durable product legislation background
With the consumer product legislative landscape undergoing its most extensive evolution in recent history, there are several new documents that specifically refer to product durability
- EU’s Strategy for Circular and Sustainable Textiles – EUR-Lex – 52022DC0141; this legislation specifically mentions durability: “Increased durability will enable consumers to use clothing for longer and at the same time support circle business models such as reuse, renting and replace, take-back services and second-hand retail, in a way that creates cost saving opportunities for citizens”
- EU’s Proposal for a new Ecodesign for Sustainable Product Regulation (ESPR) – EUR-Lex – 52022PC0142; this covers several different product types and is expected to become law in 2024. In this regulation, the EU states that “the commission will develop binding product specific Ecodesign requirements to increase textiles performance in terms of durability, reusability, reparability, fibre-to-fibre recyclability and mandatory recycled fibre content”. The new mandate for digital product passports is within the ESPR and the EU’s Strategy for Circular and Sustainable textiles. Durability information will likely need to feature on the DPP to provide the consumer with product information
- EU’s proposal to widen the product scope of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes; the EU’s Strategy for Circular and Sustainable Textiles features the mandate for an EPR for textiles, which is expected to become law around 2025. EPR schemes instruct that the producer of the product will bear the responsibility for the take-back, recycling, and final disposal of the product. Handling this responsibility will cost the producer, therefore making more durable products may reduce these costs.
- EU’s Proposal for a Directive on Substantiation and Communication of Explicit Environmental Claims (Green Claims Directive) EUR-Lex – 52023PC0166, UK’s Green Claims Code. We are also seeing an increase in the legislation tackling the malpractice of greenwashing. The EU’s Green Claims Directive is expected to become law in 2024. This will mandate the substantiation of claims, such as “durable”, by a third-party verifier. The UK CMA’s Green Claims Code is already in force, with court cases and fines for retailers ASOS, ASDA, and Boohoo. According to a CMA litigation director, there will be a “big uptick” in cases brought against companies, to restore the trust of consumers when it comes to sustainability claims.
- France’s AGEC Law; France’s AGEC law is already partly in force. This legislation will shortly mandate a durability index, which will eventually evolve into a sustainability index. It brings together data from their already existing repairability index. Each affected product must display a score to communicate its durability to the consumer.
This legislative landscape may currently be predominately EU-led, but other large markets such as the US and Japan are looking to the EU for inspiration and may act similarly.
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