Ecodesign: guidelines and implications for industry

Current Ecodesign guidelines

Ecodesign, in short, is the development of an environmentally friendly product, which must consume less energy, emit fewer pollutants and be suitable for recycling. According to 2018 data from the European Parliament, only a few percent of rare metals in cell phones are recycled and about 80 percent of environmental pollution is the result of decisions made during the product design phase. Ecodesign makes it possible to reduce that burdensome environmental impact of products from the design to the development phase. All the links in the product life cycle are considered: from the extraction of raw materials to the disposal phase. Environmental considerations include material use, water use, pollutant emissions, waste problems, repairability and recyclability.
The European Commission has prepared specific directives (Directive 2009/125/EC revising Directive 2005/32/EC) for different categories of energy-using products, which are widely sold and have a significant impact on the environment:

  • Consumer electronics
  • Household appliances
  • Industrial products
  • Air treatment
  • Professional devices
  • Illumination
  • Other Products

Manufacturers of the above products are required by these guidelines to reduce energy consumption and negative environmental impacts as early as their design phase. In addition, there is a new energy label focused on these guidelines. It can be seen in Figure 1. It shows that in addition to the energy efficiency class, energy consumption in kWh/100 operating cycles, appliance capacity, water consumption and noise level are also expressed.

Figure 1: The new energy label for energy-consuming products.

Products that meet Ecodesign requirements may use a CE mark. Only with this marking may the product be sold in Europe. Proof of compliance with the Ecodesign requirements can be through the demonstration of an EC declaration of conformity.
According to the Directive 2005/32/EC (Article 5 point 3), this declaration consists of the following elements:

  • Name and address of the manufacturer or his authorized representative.
  • A sufficiently precise description of the model to identify it unambiguously.
  • Where appropriate, the references of the harmonized standards applied.
  • Where appropriate, the other technical standards and specifications used.
  • Where appropriate, the reference of other Community legislation providing for the affixing of the CE marking that is applied.
  • Identity and signature of the person authorized to bind the manufacturer or his authorized representative.

For manufacturers of energy-using products, it is very useful to familiarize themselves with the new Directive 2009/125/EC and, if necessary, to review production processes in order to adapt to the new standards in force.

New Ecodesign guidelines on circularity

In March 2022, the European Commission announced new proposals to further develop the circular economy action plan, part of the European Green Deal. The proposals cover topics such as the overconsumption of clothing, furniture and electronics. As part of the plan, Ecodesign requirements are also being changed.

The proposed Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) is the cornerstone of the European Commission’s approach to more environmentally friendly and circular products. The ESPR sets out Ecodesign requirements for specific product categories to significantly improve their circularity, energy performance and other sustainability aspects. It builds on the successful Ecodesign Directive on energy-related products and will allow minimum Ecodesign and information requirements to be set for almost all categories of physical goods placed on the EU market.

Figure 2: Overview of the initiatives of the Circular Economy package.

The new Ecodesign requirements will be tailored to the specific characteristics of the product groups concerned. Their definition and development will take into account the potential for improvement with regard to resources and energy efficiency, as well as the product’s lifetime, value and the reduction of negative impact on the climate and environment. The new requirements will cover:

  • durability, reliability, reusability, upgradability, repairability, ease of maintenance and refurbishment of the product;
  • restrictions on the presence of substances that impede the circularity of products and materials;
  • energy use or energy efficiency of products;
  • resource use or resource efficiency of products;
  • minimum recycled content of products;
  • ease of disassembly, remanufacturing and recycling of products and materials;
  • the environmental impact of products during their life cycle, including their carbon and environmental footprints;
  • prevention and reduction of waste, including packaging waste.

Do you also do circular business in accordance with the new legislation? Check out for a good guide. For training on circular product design, please visit