Brussels – As part of its Circular Economy initiative, the European Commission has expanded its Ecolabel Scheme to include new product categories of furniture and computers, with the hope of improving their environmental performance.
Manufacturers will be required to abide by strict guidelines on environmental impact, product safety and fair labour if they wish for their products to continue to receive the EU Ecolabel. Although a voluntary scheme, the changes to the criteria are expected to affect hundreds of companies.
For furniture, the Ecolabel criteria will require manufacturers to focus on durability and repairability of their products, offering extended product guarantees of at least five years, during which time they must commit to being able to provide spare parts. Furniture comprised of multiple components must also be designed for disassembly by unskilled labour with basic tools, making it possible for furniture owners to dispose of and recycle used products. Manufacturers must also undertake life cycle assessments of the material components, and highlight where they may contribute to indoor air pollution.
The criteria for computers will require manufacturers to give greater consideration to energy efficiency and upgradability during design and manufacturing. End-of-life disassembly will also need to be eased, with manufactures required to perform disassembly tests, recording the number of steps, tools and actions needed to extract targeted components.