1. Ecodesign for Energy-related Products Directive 2009/125/EC – A guide for economic operators in regard to Ecodesign and Energy Labelling of Energy related products

This article is meant to summarise the Ecodesign directive and complementing legislations. Reading this article should give you a good grasp of the scope, aim and structure of these legislations. It is not meant to be a complete guide, but should be a good starting point and reference for anyone in the early stages of product compliance for an Energy-related product. We hope that it can answer such questions as:

  1. What is the Ecodesign directive?

Ecodesign is a general term which the EC defines as “the integration of environmental aspects into product design with the aim of improving the environmental performance of the product throughout its whole life cycle”, which could apply to any product. On the other hand, the “Ecodesign directive” is limited to the scope of energy-related products.

  1. Directive No. 2009/125/EC

Directive No. 2009/125/EC, sometimes called “Ecodesign directive” or “ErP directive” (a more representative name would confusingly be “Ecodesign for Energy-related Products” or “EErP”), is a framework directive that establishes requirements for ecodesign on energy-related products that are placed on the internal market. To avoid confusion for the different names of the directive it will be called the directive.

The aim of the directive is to limit the environmental impact of energy-related products. This is primarily accomplished through parameters related to energy and materials. 

Similar to the CPR, this directive is only a framework and in itself only defines very generic requirements. In annex 1 of the directive these generic requirements are described under the categories:

  1. Energy labelling regulation No. 2017/1369 (EU)

The energy labelling regulation is another framework legislation for energy-related products (ErPs) that is in essence, coupled with the directive. It defines additional requirements for labelling and consumer information of specific product groups. As a part of this regulation, an online database (EPREL) for all products under the regulation was established.

Note: There exists another label called “Ecolabel;” this is something completely different.

  1. Scope of the directive

Since the directive and the energy labelling regulation are both framework legislations, their scope is left somewhat vague (or perhaps extensive is the correct wording). They apply to all “Energy-related products,” which means any product or part of a product that “[…] has an impact on energy consumption during use […] and of which the environmental performance can be assessed […]”, as defined in Art.2 §1 of both. This definition is extensive, as the term “energy” here is not limited to any specific energy carriers, such as electricity and hydrocarbon fuels. 

They specifically exempt means of transportation for goods and persons from the scope. But tyres are specified under the energy labelling regulation, so the definition of “means of transportation” is likely only vehicles in their entirety.

But since these are only framework legislations and have no specified requirements, the defined scope has no impact on product compliance. Instead the scope that is of interest for product compliance, is defined in the supplementary legislations. In the directive these are called “Implementing measures” and in the labelling regulation “delegated acts”, but in effect they are the same and are published as separate EU-regulations.

  1. Product-group specific regulations

These regulations define specific requirements for different product-groups. This method of creating many specific regulations comes with both positive and negative consequences. The clearly positive aspect is that products have clearly defined parameters they need to comply with. These parameters are also specific for the exact product-group, which reduces the need for potentially irrelevant tests. The main negative aspect is that many products under the expansive scope of the directive, do not yet have any such regulations. This results from the larger effort it takes to create these more specific regulations. Another consequence of the specific nature of the regulations can be the confusing process of identifying relevant regulations for products that do not neatly fall into product-groups. Although such products probably have an exceedingly small share of the market, so it likely rarely causes issues.

The product-groups are themselves grouped into more general categories on the EC webpage for Energy efficient products; these are:

  1. Requirements for ErPs 
    1. The directive

The only requirements from the directive are for documentation and authority cooperation. As for the product the only requirement of note is that it needs to have a DoC and be CE marked if it is covered by implementing measures. As for any product, technical documentation is needed.

Unusually the directive specifies that all relevant documents must be made available within 10 days from the request by an authority. And as usual the documentation must be available for 10 years after the last unit is manufactured.

The directive defines two systems for conformity assessment, i.e. how the requirements defined in the implementing measures must be assessed. The implementing measures state which of these systems shall be used.

  1. Internal design control

The first system for conformity assessment is defined in Annex IV of the directive. This system requires that a technical documentation is created that makes it possible to assess the conformity of the products concerning the requirements in relevant implementing measures. This documentation must contain at least the following:

  1. Management system for assessing conformity

The second system for conformity assessment is defined in Annex V of the directive. This system includes the requirements from the first system, but has additional but it also contains continuous tasks for the manufacturer to perform. These additional tasks are to establish corporate procedures for ensuring that the product keeps complying with requirements in the applicable implementing measures.

  1. Energy labelling regulation

This regulation specifies obligations for two entities, the “supplier” and “dealer”. 

The supplier is either a manufacturer established in the EU, the Authorised Representative of a non-EU manufacturer or an importer, whoever is the responsible economic operator on the Union market.

The dealer is whoever offers the product to a consumer, whether for sale, hire, or just for display. So, the obligations do not apply only when the product is sold, but as soon as a consumer can see that the product is for offer.

According to relevant delegated acts, both entities are obliged to reference energy labelling as part of any visual advertisement or technical promotion material. They are also prohibited from labelling products in a manner that does not comply with this regulation or any relevant delegated acts including any label that mimics the energy label. Lastly they must both cooperate with market surveillance authorities 

The following obligations are just the baseline and relevant delegated acts will add further specifications.

Useful links: Product database
Energy Label Generator

  1. Obligations of supplier
  1. Obligations of dealer
  1. Obligations for product groups

There are, in total, 31 product groups defined under the directive and energy labelling regulation combined. Some are just defined in either, and some are defined in both. Summarising these would be senseless and unusable since some requirements are exceedingly specific for the product group. For example vacuum cleaners have a parameter for “dust pick up on carpet” (dpuc), which is quite a product-specific parameter. Some examples of more general parameters for Ecodesign requirements are listed below:

The specific requirements for energy labelling are more homogeneous than for ecodesign. It generally specifies what parameters must be evaluated, efficiency classes (A+++ to G) for the parameters and how the label shall look and what it must include.

If a notified body is required to assess conformity, this will be stated in the product group regulation. They are in most cases not needed.

The EC has fortunately created a webpage that lists all product groups. For each group they have summarised both the ecodesign requirements and energy label requirements, listed all relevant legislation and for most groups an FAQ or guideline for assistance. This page is more or less an essential tool for identifying requirements for these legislations. At the end of this article  a short walkthrough is given how the requirements can be identified for a product.

  1. ErPs outside product groups 

As both framework legislations do not set any specific general requirements they can be disregarded, if no relevant implementing measures or delegated acts exist. 

But as a not  insignificant part of the EUs strategy for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, it is easily assumed that the number of product groups defined with their own ecodesign requirements will increase. So any manufacturer of an ErP that is as of yet covered, should stay up to date with new additions, as to make sure that their products can achieve conformity before the regulation comes into force.

The EC publishes a working plan for the coming four years every fourth year. These documents identify product groups that are deemed a priority for addition. The working plan for 2020-2024 has seemingly been delayed, but is planned for publication in the first quarter of 2022. Looking at the 2016 document, the following product groups have been identified:

* Deemed inappropriate for regulation by Ecodesign or Energy label.

This list is not up to date, and some product groups have received their regulations. Hopefully, we will remember to update this list as the next working plan is published (otherwise, they can be found on this webpage). It would be advisable for manufacturers to check this document every fourth year to foresee possible future regulations. 

  1. Example for identifying requirements

To visualise the approach for identifying the requirements (from these legislations) for an ErP, we present an example step-by-step approach. 

  1. Example 1

An example is a TV.

  1. Is this an Energy-related Product?

Yes, its use impacts energy consumption.

  1. Does this product fit within any specified product groups?

Yes, on the list of product categories there is a group called Electronic displays including televisions. On the top of the page there is a summary of the scope of the product group, which includes televisions.

  1. What legislations apply to this product group?

On the page for the product group there is a summary of the requirements for both Energy label and Ecodesign. So, the product is defined in both frameworks, and on the same webpage the regulations for each can be found.

  1. What are the requirements?

These documents include requirements in several articles and annexes. This is the summary of where the requirements are found in the documents.

Regulation 2019/2013:

Regulation 2019/2021:

  1. Guidelines

The webpage also includes several guiding documents to make it easier to grasp the requirements. This includes guidelines for concepts related to the product group and FAQs for the requirements of different economic actors.