APPLiA: virtual roundtable on sustainability

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

APPLiA organized a virtual roundtable o the topic “Sustainable Products Initiative: the future of sustainable circular home appliances”. As reported by the Association, with the ultimate goal that all products placed on the EU market become increasingly sustainable and stand the test of circularity, the European Commission will propose a sustainable product policy legislative initiative by the end of 2021. The resulting Sustainable Products Initiative will revise the Ecodesign Directive and set sustainability criteria and requirements on a broad range of products. Over the years, home appliances have delivered increasingly higher efficiency standards. “From the design phase to the end-of-life of products, circularity is enhanced throughout all the life stages of a device”, kicked off Federico Magalini, Managing Director of Sofies and expert contributor of APPLiA’s virtual roundtable, shedding light on the achievements of the industry in closing the loop on material cycles. Particularly, data show that the effectiveness of recycling when waste is handled correctly is quite high. Nevertheless, plastics recycling represents one of the most challenging aspects. Reporting on a dedicated study elaborated by Sofies on plastic flows in the home appliance sector and made available in the APPLiA Statistical Report 2019-2020, Magalini outlined the importance of overcoming the challenges related to the use of recycled materials in products and “make the best out of plastics from recycling by the means of clear incentives to innovators”. In the broader context of the EU Green Deal, the Sustainable Products Initiative will serve as the key instrument in a renewed European approach towards product policy. Matjaz Malgay, Head of Unit at the European Commission – DG Environment was the first panelist to set the scene for the roundtable discussion. “Building on the lessons learned from the current Ecodesign framework, the SPI has the ultimate goal of addressing the challenges related to environmental impacts and resource-use while empowering industries and consumers – he started -. It is an ambitious instrument and joint efforts are needed to make sure it has the expected impact”. In the last decade, the home appliance sector has been investing a lot to increase the circularity of its production processes and products. Korrina Hegarty, APPLiA Environment Policy Director gave the audience an overview of the industry’s contributions as also reported in APPLiA’s freshly released Circular Appliances website. “There are a variety of ways to drive resource efficiency and manufacture sustainable products that advance the circular economy – she said -. To this extent, it is key that policy objectives, choices and incentives across all policy areas are clear and consistently implemented to create the market for sustainable circular business models and opportunities from a product lifecycle perspective”. In line with the previous intervention, Leendert Jan de Olde, Director Sustainability and Ecodesign at Philips, outlined the industry’s commitment to enhancing circularity. “To date, we are actively engaged with high level players and have already achieved a pledge of 15% revenue coming from circular products”, he commented highlighting that “exploring new business models such as the circular-ready design, will be key to this end”. On behalf of consumer associations, Sylvia Maurer, Director Sustainability, Energy, Food, Health and Safety at BEUC – The European Consumer Organisation, put the accent on the increasingly changing consumer behaviour towards circular products. “We are only at the beginning of the sustainability transformation – she started -. Ecodesign has brought many benefits and now it is time to extend it beyond home appliances and increase durability and repairability for all products”. With this regard, she continued, “the possible introduction of a Digital Product Passport would help increase transparency across supply chains”. Closing the panel, MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen, member of the European People’s Party (EPP) and keynote speaker of APPLiA’s roundtable, said: “we only have one planet.With this in mind, reaching climate neutrality entails reducing consumption of resources as it stands today”. Building on the achievements of the current Ecodesign, “we need to ensure that upgradable, repairable, reusable and recyclable products become the norm – she said -. To meet this objective, the adoption of a science-based approach and more specifically, of Life Cycle Analysis is a key instrument”. With a shared plea for EU Member States to join forces at all levels, Paolo Falcioni, APPLiA’s Director General, closed the roundtable.