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Stricter Ecodesign Requirements and Energy Labelling Rules for Vacuum Cleaners Enter into Force

As from 1 September 2017, Hong Kong traders selling electrical appliances within the EU must comply with stricter ecodesign requirements in the case of vacuum cleaners, and ensure that they use the updated energy label for this category of product. Loud and inefficient vacuum cleaners that use more than 900 watts and exceed 80 decibels will no longer be allowed on the EU market.

Hong Kong traders may recall that previously, from 1 September 2014 onwards, manufacturers of vacuum cleaners had to comply with the ecodesign requirements set out in Annex I of Regulation 666/2013 on the ecodesign requirements for vacuum cleaners and use the label set out in Annex II of Regulation 665/2013 on the energy labelling of vacuum cleaners.

The main purpose of the updated rules is to make vacuum cleaners more cost- and energy-efficient. Certain requirements have become stricter, while others were newly introduced. The new rules equally tackle adverse health effects relating to noise pollution and dust re-emission.

As before, the rules apply to electric mains-operated vacuum cleaners, including hybrid vacuum cleaners. Additionally, as of 1 September 2017, they also apply to water filter vacuum cleaners. Battery operated vacuum cleaners, robot vacuums, industrial, or central vacuum cleaners as well as floor polishers do not fall within the scope of the regulations.

Vacuum cleaners placed on the market after 1 September 2017 must have an annual energy consumption of less than 43.0 kWh/year (instead of the 62.0 kWh/year that was previously admissible). The rated input power has been lowered from less than 1600W to less than 900W. The vacuum cleaner must comply with stricter minimum efficiency standards as to dust pick-up on carpets and hard floors.

Among the newly introduced requirements, a maximum dust re-emission level of 1.00% has to be respected. The maximum sound power level has to be less than or equal to 80 dB(A). Through durability requirements for the hose and a minimum operational motor lifetime, Regulation 666/2013 aims to increase sustainability.

Hong Kong traders might want to pay special attention to the fact that the labelling is also subject to change. Instead of energy label 1 set out in Annex II of Regulation 666/2013, products must now use energy label 2. The main difference is the energy efficiency scale. From 1 September 2017 onwards, the most efficient vacuum cleaners will carry a label of A+++ (most efficient) to D (least efficient) instead of a scale from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient). Regarding the best rating, the old A category will now become A+++, the middle ground rating D will become A and the lowest efficiency rating G will become D.

It is moreover worthy of note for Hong Kong traders that the labelling requirements will once again be subject to change under the EU’s new energy labelling regime. Recently, updated rules for energy labelling were published which will gradually (in the future) lead to the (re-)introduction of a scale from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient). In the meanwhile, products have to be relabelled under the current rules.

The European Commission expects that by switching to more energy efficient vacuum cleaners, consumers will be able to save €70 over the lifetime of the product. According to an estimation by the European Commission, the whole of Europe could save up to 20 TWh of electricity per year by 2020 with more efficient vacuum cleaners. This is the equivalent of the entire annual household electricity consumption of Belgium. The Commission further outlines that under the new rules CO² emissions will be lowered by over 6 million tonnes, which is the equivalent of eight medium-sized power plants.

The Commission outlines that the new rules are based on a “tried and tested” approach which has already delivered results for all sorts of other appliances and has made life easier and cheaper for consumers. A similar labelling system was introduced for fridges and freezers over twenty years ago.

The introduction of the Regulation on vacuum cleaners had given rise to criticism, particularly within the United Kingdom, where anti-EU campaigners have cited it as an example of excessive EU regulation. It has been reported that the negative media coverage surrounding the subject contributed to the Commission’s decision not to include toasters and hairdryers within the new regime.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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