The EU Ecodesign directive will have a direct impact on wood-burning and multifuel stoves, and other heating products, from 2022 but it has actually been around since 2005. There seems to be a general misconception that the directive relates only to heating products when it actually relates to all goods and services. The directive is already impacting green energy, sustainable flooring, recyclable products and eco-friendly packaging to name but a few. So, what is it and how will it impact the stove industry?
What is Ecodesign?
Lifting the description out of the EU directive, Ecodesign relates to the production of goods and services for customers while:-
• Minimising the use of resources
• Minimising the impact on the environment and society
It is safe to say this is a far-reaching directive and one which can and will no doubt be applied to more and more areas of business going forward. As we touched on above, there is a general misconception that this directive relates only to wood-burning/multifuel stoves, and other heating products, but this is not the case.
The 10 core principles of Ecodesign
Are you sitting comfortably? We will now take a look at the 10 core principles of the European Union’s Ecodesign directive and expand on the guidance.
• Using materials which have a lesser impact on the environment
This one is probably a no-brainer because we have seen how the likes of plastic and toxic materials can impact the environment not only in the short-term but for many years to come. We have already seen great strides in the production of environmentally friendly materials many of which are biodegradable.
• Reducing the number of materials used in the production process
This principle takes in an array of different measures as a means of not only reducing waste but also the impact on the environment. This may include anything from excess packaging to certain elements of the production process which can be replaced with more environmentally friendly processes, such as for example the use of heat and the creation of fumes – which are released into the atmosphere.
• Using fewer resources during the manufacturing process
If we sit back and take a look at the EU Ecodesign directive from a distance, it does make perfect sense. Say for example an efficient manufacturer was able to reduce the electricity required to produce a stove, this will be a cost saving to the company/customer and to the environment. It also takes in the transportation of various products and materials associated with the manufacturing process.
• Producing less pollution and waste
While the production of less pollution and waste is part of the EU Ecodesign directive, this is something that many companies have been working on for some years. If you look at wood-burning/multifuel stoves, we can see huge improvements in the combustion process where fuel is burnt, re-burnt and burnt again. This maximises heat output while minimising waste and pollution – is there a better example?
• Environmental impact on the distribution of products
This principle relates directly to the distribution of products from raw materials right through to the delivery to customers. Is there any way to reduce mileage during the manufacture and distribution process? Are there more efficient ways of transporting products in bulk? Basically, the fewer miles in the distribution process the less impact on the environment – that is before we even get onto the subject of electric vehicles.
• Minimising resources used by end customers
If we throw this back to the wood-burning/multifuel stove argument, perhaps the best example of minimising resources used by end customers is to improve the efficiency of a wood-burning/multifuel stove. Any improvement in efficiency will reduce the fuel requirement which will reduce emissions and pollution. You get the message…………
• Limiting waste and pollution
Even though there have been great strides made in reducing excess packaging there is still a lot more to do. For industries such as the stove sector this can be challenging because packaging is required to ensure the product is shipped safely. Whether more investment is required in different materials, or more cost-effective materials, is debatable. This is an area which will likely become more of a focus going forward…….
• Extending the life of the product/service
Again, looking at wood-burning and multifuel stoves, the greater the life of a product the fewer resources required to manufacture replacements. This also applies to spare parts which are already extremely durable – especially those forced to withstand extremely high temperatures. If there is one area in which the stove industry has expertise it is extending the life of not only the stove but also the spare parts.
• Reuse and recycling
This is relatively straightforward. We have seen many second hand stoves repaired and reused, many repurposed and resold. There’s also the fact that many spare parts will fit an array of different machines which reduces resources from the design process right through to the manufacturing process. When you also consider the use of wood, a replaceable fuel, this is another area in which the stove industry has made huge progress.
• Reducing environmental impact on disposal
While many of the Ecodesign principles stand-alone in their own right, we have seen a number of them intrinsically connected. The reduction of the impact on the environment when products are disposed of is very similar to the reuse and recycling comments above. There are companies who specialise in collecting second hand stoves so they can reuse the materials. Whether we will eventually see some form of second-hand stove scrappage scheme introduced by the government remains to be seen.
Is the stove industry ready for the Ecodesign directive?
The simple fact is that all major stove manufacturers have already signed up to the idea that products manufactured from 2020 will already abide by the Ecodesign directive. It is safe to say that there are not many industries as forward-looking as the stove sector despite the fact that it continues to be bashed by the press. Whether this constant criticism, rumour and counter rumour will cease after the 2022 directive becomes law remains to be seen.
We thought it would be interesting to put a different light on the EU Ecodesign directive which began as far back in 2005 and is slowly working its way through many different sectors. DEFRA, the UK government body for the environment, food and rural affairs, has stated that the UK will abide by the EU Ecodesign directive even after Brexit. So, the stove industry knows for definite that the huge investment in time and money will not be wasted. Ultimately, it will be the environment and the end customer who benefit the most.