Monday, May 10, 2021

Tough new rules aim to make electrical goods last longer | Energy efficiency

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Tougher rules are being introduced to make appliances such as fridges, washing machines and TVs cheaper to run and last longer, the government has said.

New legislation aims to tackle “premature obsolescence” in electrical goods – short lifespans built into appliances by manufacturers so that customers have to buy new ones sooner – and make them more energy efficient.

The rules include a legal requirement on manufacturers to make spare parts available to consumers, which aims to extend the lifespan of products by up to 10 years and cut carbon emissions from the manufacture of new goods.

The measures, which apply to white goods such as washing machines, dishwashers and fridges, as well as items such as TVs, aim to reduce the 1.5m tonnes of electrical waste the UK generates a year.

Higher energy efficiency standards are also being set for electrical goods, which officials said would save consumers an average of £75 a year on bills overall and cut carbon emissions by using less electricity over their lifetimes.

The business and energy secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, said: “Our plans to tighten product standards will ensure more of our electrical goods can be fixed rather than thrown on the scrap heap, putting more money back in the pockets of consumers while protecting the environment.

“Going forward, our upcoming energy efficiency framework will push electrical products to use even less energy and material resources, saving people money on their bills and reducing carbon emissions as we work to reach net zero by 2050.”

New energy labels have also been introduced this week, to simplify the ratings, which had reached the point where most products were classed as A+, A++ or A+++ because of improvements in energy efficiency since the standards were first introduced.

The simplified system is based on an A-G scale, with the bar raised for each grade so that very few appliances will now be classed in the top A standard.

The head of international collaboration at Energy Saving Trust, Emilie Carmichael, said: “Simplifying the way energy efficiency is displayed on labels will help consumers to make more informed choices to reduce their energy consumption and bills.”

The new regulations, which the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy aims to bring into force in the summer, reflect what was agreed by the UK as an EU member state two years ago. They will apply in Great Britain, while EU rules will continue to apply in Northern Ireland.

A call for evidence, which explored the scope for introducing a more ambitious climate-friendly policy for electrical appliances after Brexit, will also feed into a forthcoming policy framework, officials said.

The environmental audit committee chairman, Conservative MP Philip Dunne, welcomed the move to crack down on planned obsolescence to tackle the “e-waste tsunami”. “There should be no contest: consumers should have every right to fix items they own,” he said.

“Making spare parts available is the first step in creating a circular economy where we use, reuse and recycle products. We must stop using and disposing quite so much: we must take action if we are to protect the environment for generations to come.”

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