One part of the circular economy package is concerned with minimising material usage in new products. Here the idea is to add to the existing requirements for reducing energy use and set minimum requirements for durability, extending product lifetimes by making them easier to repair and/or upgrade, and emphasising re-manufacture and re-use.
Other items include considering the proportion of re-used components and/or recycled materials in products and the use of critical raw materials.
But it is not possible to set minimum requirements without having a means of assessing compliance – and that means standards.
At the end of last year, the European Commission formally asked the European Standards bodies to develop the standards to provide a framework for these material efficiency aspects. A Task Force (convened by Richard Hughes of AMDEA) has been considering this request, to identify what standards need to be developed and when they could be published. At the CEN-CENELEC Ecodesign Coordination Committee on 9 September (attended by the Commission) the Task Force’s proposals were considered and accepted. In all, 20 standards will be required and the job of producing them will fall to a newly created CEN-CENELEC Joint Working Group. This new group will hold its first meeting in late September.