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Over 40% of Electrical and Electronic Goods Have Wrong or Missing Energy Labels, Study Finds

On 9 March 2016, a study into the compliance of energy labels on electrical and electronic goods reported that more than 40% of labels were either incorrect or missing.

Hong Kong companies familiar with the energy labelling of electrical appliances for the EU market will recall that most electrical and electronic equipment sold in shops are required, under the relevant EU laws, to display energy labels on the outside of their packaging. Equally, similar products sold online must have the same information displayed electronically. Moreover, pursuant to ecodesign requirements, certain products are banned from the EU market due to their inefficiency.

In the framework of the study into compliance, researchers conducted checks on energy labels on electrical and electronic goods on the market in eleven EU Member States over a three-year period.

The results of the study confirmed the initial findings of a Europe-wide campaign, led by NGO members, called MarketWatch. The campaign was established to identify products and companies in breach of EU energy laws. The initial findings indicated that one in five products investigated had no energy label at all.

Approximately more than 100,000 products were assessed – both in physical shops and online. The study found that air conditioners and wine storage products were the least likely to display a label. Indeed, the results showed that air conditioners were the worst offenders, with only 25% of the displayed products correctly labelled and 35% not labelled at all. The situation online was just as bad, with websites providing incorrect information.

Hong Kong exporters of especially electronic and electrical goods should bear in mind that these results may not be representative of the whole market, as shops and websites were selected on the basis of suspected non-compliance.

In the final report, the MarketWatch campaign claimed that the possible 10% of expected energy savings – as a result of the Ecodesign and Energy Labelling Directives – may be lost due to non-compliance.

Despite the disappointing findings, the study nonetheless demonstrated that labelling compliance overall has improved – this was seen especially towards the end of the three-year study. In the first round of checks, researchers found that 53% of the labels checked for all electrical products sold were accurate. This figure increased to 59%.

As may be expected, the results indicated that electrical and electronic goods that were being sold over the internet suffered more incorrect labelling than goods in “brick-and-mortar” shops. The final results revealed that 20% of online products had no label at all, while only 43% had correct labels.

In contrast, in “brick-and-mortar” shops, 17% had no label while 75% had been labelled correctly. These results are concerning particularly as there has been a rise in shoppers of household appliances researching and purchasing products online, according to the PwC 2015 Global Total Retail Survey.

The full report is available on the MarketWatch website.

Hong Kong suppliers to the EU market may recall that in July 2015, the European Commission proposed a revision of the EU’s energy efficiency labelling laws covering dishwashers, washing machines, tumble driers, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, lamps, luminaries, televisions, air conditioners, domestic cooking appliances and ventilation units.

The proposal was found to be in line with the ‘Energy Efficiency First’ principle that was included in the Energy Union Strategy. The overhaul will introduce a new A to G system of energy efficiency labelling, replacing the current system that reaches A+++. The latter system has been widely acknowledged as ineffectual, as consumers struggle to distinguish the best performing products. It is hoped that the new system will provide clarity to manufacturers, promote energy efficiency, cultivate competition, and encourage the development of more efficient and environmentally friendly products.

The Commission has also proposed the creation of a digital database for new energy efficient products. It is expected that the database will strengthen enforcement of compliance with energy efficiency labelling requirements, provide readily accessible information about products to enforcement authorities in Member States, and provide readily accessible information about products to dealers and consumers.

Hong Kong suppliers of products that are covered by the Commission’s proposal will probably want to take these future changes into account. The Commission proposal’s first reading/single reading commenced on 10 September 2015 when the committee referral was announced at the European Parliament. The relevant committee is scheduled to vote on 24 May 2016 in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure. The Indicative plenary sitting date is scheduled for 4 July 2016. The Council of EU Member States must also agree with the proposed rules before they may be adopted into law.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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