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EU Extends Ecolabel for Furniture, Footwear and Computers

On 4 August 2016, Commission Decision 2016/1332 was published in the EU’s Official Journal, extending the application of the Ecolabel to furniture including wooden furniture. On 9 August and 12 August respectively, two further acts (Commission Decision 2016/1349 and Commission Decision 2016/1371) were published, extending the Ecolabel criteria to footwear, and to personal, notebook and tablet computers.

Hong Kong traders may recall that the well-regarded Ecolabel is part of a voluntary scheme, which commenced in 1992, and was revised in 2010. The scheme sets out the basis according to which the Ecolabel can be awarded to products which have a reduced environmental impact (in other words, are more environmentally friendly). The framework for the Ecolabelling scheme is set out in Regulation 66/2010.

The scheme aims not to discriminate between EU-made and foreign-made (e.g. Hong Kong or Chinese mainland) products. The framework Regulation sets out product groups for the application of ecological criteria that consider the energy use of a product throughout its life cycle. These criteria have to be fulfilled before an Ecolabel may be awarded to products from any of the product groups concerned.

Although the use of the Ecolabel is voluntary, Hong Kong producers of products that fall within the product groups covered by the new Commission Decisions and who wish to avail of the Ecolabel, will need to familiarise themselves with the new ecological criteria contained in the Annexes to the Decisions.

Commission Decision 2016/1332 on furniture: This new Decision extends the scope of the product group from Decision 2009/894/EC to include non-wooden furniture. The extension was granted to better reflect the range of furniture products on the market, the state of the art for these products and to take into account the innovation of the last few years. As such, the new Decision also establishes a revised set of ecological criteria.

The product group comprises free-standing or built-in units whose primary function is to be used for the storage, placement or hanging of items and/or to provide surfaces where users can rest, sit, eat, study or work, whether for indoor or outdoor use. The scope extends to domestic furniture and contract furniture items for use in domestic and non-domestic environments including bed frames, legs, bases and headboards, but not mattresses. Second-hand, refinished, refurbished or remanufactured furniture products do not fall within the scope.

EU Ecolabel licences awarded in accordance with the criteria set out in earlier Decision 2009/894/EC may be used for 12 months from the date of adoption of the new Decision.

Commission Decision 2016/1349 on footwear: This new Decision establishes revised ecological criteria, and the related assessment and verification requirements for footwear so as to reflect the state of the art of the market. It also takes into account the innovation that has taken place in this product group.

This product group comprises all articles designed to protect or cover the foot, with an applied sole which comes into contact with the ground. The group does not include footwear containing any electrical or electronic component, footwear designed for single use, socks with an applied sole or toy footwear.

EU Ecolabel licences awarded in accordance with the criteria set out in earlier Decision 2009/563/EC may be used for 12 months from the date of adoption of the new Decision.

Commission Decision 2016/1371 on personal, notebook and tablet computers: This Decision modifies the scope of this product group and establishes a revised set of ecological criteria to reflect the state of the art of the market for this product group and innovation.

In particular, this Decision merges the criteria laid down in Commission Decision 2011/330/EU on notebook computers and 2011/337/EU on personal computers in order to reduce the administrative burden for competent bodies and applicants. The revised criteria also reflect a broadening of the scope to address new products such as tablets and all-in-one portable computers. They also include new requirements on hazardous substances that were introduced after those Decisions were adopted.

The product group of ‘personal, notebook and tablet computers’ comprises desktop computers, integrated desktop computers, all-in-one computers, notebook computers, two-in-one notebook computers, tablet computers, thin clients, workstations and small-scale servers. However, for the purposes of this Decision, the product group does not include gaming consoles and digital picture frames.

The Decision on personal, notebook and tablet computers will apply two months from its adoption date. Ecolabels awarded in accordance with the criteria set out in earlier Decisions 2011/330/EU or 2011/337/EU may be used for 12 months from the date of adoption of the new Decision.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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