Energy efficient products (EU)

In the European Union, many everyday products such as washing machines, refrigerators, domestic boilers and cooking appliances carry energy labels and are designed to meet minimum energy efficiency standards.

Energy labels help consumers choose energy efficient products. Hitherto, the labelling requirements for individual product groups have been created under the EU’s Energy Labelling Directive, a process managed by the European Commission. Products had been labelled on a scale of A+++ (most efficient) to G (least efficient).

In July 2017, a new Energy Labelling Regulation was published that will gradually replace the Directive. In the future, products will be labelled using a simpler A to G scale, as the development of more energy efficient products means that the lowest categories in the previous scale are no longer needed. Consumers will also have access to a database of product labels and information sheets, and defeat devices, which alter a product’s performance under test conditions, will be banned.

The new Energy Labelling Regulation is here. It is in force from 1st August 2017. As a European Regulation it is directly applicable in all member States, without necessary enactment of local law. 

Companies can create their own labels for energy efficiency using a range of labelling tools.

Ecodesign regulations require manufacturers to decrease the energy consumption of their products by establishing minimum energy efficiency standards. By setting these standards at European level, manufacturers do not have to navigate through multiple national regulations when launching their products on the market.

The ecodesign requirements for individual product groups are created under the EU’s Ecodesign Directive, process also managed by the European Commission. As an alternative, industry sectors may sign voluntary agreements to reduce the energy consumption of their products. The Commission formally recognises such agreements and monitors their implementation.
The (recast) European Directive (dating 2009) is here

It is in the UK news that energy inefficient and noisy vacuum cleaners are banned from today (1st Sept 2017), this is the date set out by the vacuum cleaner specific European Regulation made under the EU’s Ecodesign Directive. The European Regulations issued for products covered by the Ecodesign Directive are located from this link

The European ENERGY STAR Programme is a voluntary energy labelling scheme for office equipment. With the ENERGY STAR logo, consumers can easily identify energy efficient products. It covers office equipment including computers, servers, displays, imaging equipment and UPSs.

ENERGY STAR was started by the US Environment Protection Agency in 1992. The EU agreed to take part in 2001 to include office equipment not carrying an EU energy efficiency label.

Under EU law (Article 6 and Annex III (c) of Directive 2012/27/EU), central governments and EU institutions must purchase office equipment with energy efficiency levels at least equivalent to ENERGY STAR.

Vehicle type approvals (EU)

From 1st September 2017, new car models will have to pass new and more reliable emissions tests in real driving conditions. 

The EU press release is here.

Please note the EU has initiated infringement proceedings (enforcement actions) against a number of member states including the UK, for their failure to fulfill their obligations under EU vehicle type approval legislation. 

The EU press release is here.

The European Commission is also working to ensure the application of EU air quality rules. In this regard, it has launched infringement procedures against 16 Member States in breach of ambient NO2 limit values.

New European Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (EU)

A further stage is reached yesterday in the creation of a new EU Directive to amend the existing Directive on this topic to introduce stricter limits on exposure values and skin notations for five carcinogens as well as skin notations independently of limit values for two more carcinogens, covering seven carcinogens in total.

The carcinogenic and mutagenic substances covered by the directive are the following: Mineral Oils that have been used before in internal combustion engines, certain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) mixtures, trichloroethylene, 4,4′-methylenedianiline, epichlorohydrine, ethylene dibromide, ethylene dichloride. 

The European Commission had submitted in January 2017 the proposed revision which concerns in particular annexes I and III of directive 2004/37/EC. 

The retained limit values are based on an analysis of economic, social and environmental impacts of the different policy options for each chemical agent, on the criteria of the scientific advice of the scientific committee on occupational exposure limits (SCOEL), effectiveness, efficiency and coherence. 

The limit values were also agreed by the advisory committee on health and safety at work (ACSH). 

This revision follows an earlier Commission proposal which already included 13 carcinogenic agents.

A further package of proposed limit values is expected to be adopted by the Commission at the beginning of next year. 

The current documents are found here

Exiting the EU (UK & EU)

Further developments yesterday and today are set out below :

(1) the UK will also exit the European Economic Area (EEA) – this involves Article 127 of the EEA Agreement – a White Paper is expected on this. This is in addition to exiting the EU and Euratom.

(2) the European Parliament issued a draft Motion for a Resolution on the negotiations with the United Kingdom – this document is here.

(3) the European Council issued draft Guidelines for the negotiations, these were issued to 27 Member States and will be finalised at the EU27 meeting on 29th April – these Guidelines are here (curtesy of the Irish state broadcaster RTE).

On foot of these further developments, Email Alerts to subscribers to Cardinal Environment Limited EHS Legislation Registers and Law Checklists will be sent on Monday.

Carcinogens & Mutagens (EU Law)

An amendment to European Directive 2004/37/EC (Carcinogens and Mutagens) is expected to be adopted in February 2017. This amendment will set exposure limits for a further 11 carcinogens in addition to those covered by the existing 2004 directive. These are: 

* respirable crystalline silica dust

* 1,2-Epoxypropane

* 1,3-Butadiene

* 2-Nitropropane

* acrylamide

* certain chromium (VI) compounds

* ethylene oxide

* o-toluidine

* refractory ceramic fibres

* Bromoethylene

* Hydrazine

The amendment will also revise the limits for vinyl chloride monomer and hardwood dusts in the light of more recent scientific data. 

There will be minimum requirements for eliminating and reducing all carcinogens and mutagens. In line with the existing 2004 Directive, Employers will have to identify and assess risks to workers who are associated with exposure to specific carcinogens (and mutagens), and prevent exposure where risks exist. 

Substitution by a non or less-hazardous process or chemical agent will be required where this is technically possible. 

Email Alerts will be sent out. The Amendment proposal is here

National Emission Ceilings Directive (EU)

National emission ceilings are limits for total emissions of certain air pollutants that have to be respected by Member States. The existing Directive on national emission ceilings covers limits for 2010 onwards. These ceilings have helped reduce emissions of sulphur dioxide (the cause of acid rain), ammonia, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds (pollution from solvents, road vehicles, household heating and power generation systems) in recent years. The existing Directive is implemented in respect of point sources of air pollution, via air pollution permits or environmental permits that address air in individual Member States (local legislation). 

However, the EU is still not reaching its long-term air quality objectives.

The European Commission’s proposed replacement Directive introduces stricter national emission ceilings. It also proposes new controls on methane and particulate, not covered by the existing Directive.

The current Directive (Directive 2001/81/EC) will apply to 2019. New national commitments for 6 pollutants were proposed to apply from 2020 and 2030. The 6 pollutants were sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ammonia, methane, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds.

On 30 June 2016, the Council and the European Parliament reached provisional agreement. This agreement (for the new NEC Directive) will set new national limits for 5 (not 6) pollutants. Methane is dropped. The national limits for 2020 to 2029 are the same as Member States are already comitted to in the revised UNECE Gothenburg Protocol. New stricter limits from 2030 are now agreed.

The European Parliament will vote in the Autumn, adoption is expected by the end of 2016. 

Information is found here.

Once enacted, the new NEC Directive will be loaded into subscriber websystems, those with PPC/Multimedia Registers. Please email or reply to this post if you want the new NEC Directive loaded into your websystem.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) (EU)

European Directive 2014/52/EU amends the existing European EIA Directive, effective 15 May 2014.

Subscribers to Cardinal Environment Tailored EHS Legislation Registers have this amendment loaded as part of their consolidated EU law (where they have the EIA Directive).

Member States have until 16 May 2017 to implement the revision. Email Alerts will be sent out when local law changes. (Remember as a European Directive, it is not binding within a Member State until the local law changes).

The amendment is intended to lighten unnecessary administrative burdens and make it easier to assess potential impacts, without weakening existing environmental safeguards.

The EU guidance lists seven things that the new directive does differently:

– Simplification: EIA procedures must be simplified by member states;
– Timeframes: these are introduced for some stages e.g. screening decisions;
– Screening: asking whether EIA is required is simplified;
– Reports: environmental statements are renamed EIA reports and must be made more understandable;
– Quality and content: EIA reports are to be improved and conflicts of interest avoided;
– Decisions: application decisions must be clear and transparent and timeframes may be introduced (i.e. optionally);
– Monitoring: projects with significant effects on the environment must be monitored

This is a presentation which gives greater detail.