A package of new measures will encourage manufacturers to make more eco-friendly goods and make sure shoppers can spot them.
The measures – some mandatory, some voluntary – are grouped together in a new commission plan on green product design and energy and environmental labelling. All the new measures together could reduce the amount of energy used to heat, light and maintain buildings by 30%.
Current consumption and production trends have significant environmental impacts, including greenhouse gases, pollution and the running down of the Earth’s natural resources. But there are some easy ways of reducing environmental damage without affecting our wellbeing.
The EU already has rules on energy-efficiency labelling. Shops selling appliances such as washing machines and ovens, must display information on environmental and energy performance. The commission is now proposing to extend this scheme to a much wider range of products – windows, for example. Better window insulation could cut heating bills by 11% and greenhouse gases by more than a fifth.
The labelling scheme is just one part of the EU’s sustainable industrial policy, providing incentives for manufacturers to come up with more eco-friendly products and production methods. This will help Europe keep its competitive edge in this field, over emerging economies such as China and India.
The public authorities also have a role to play in ensuring sustainable consumption and production. National, regional and local government in the EU spends a considerable share of countries’ GDP on construction, transport, cleaning and other goods and services. The newplan sets targets to encourage these authoritiesto direct spending and investment towards green products.