Environmentally sound product design (ecodesign) can play a big role in making products more energy efficient. The EU Ecodesign Directive, which has been in force since 2005, is underpinned by the notion of environmentally sound product design. It states the minimum requirements products must meet. The product-specific regulations on ecodesign issued by the European Commission are all based upon this Directive.

It makes good sense to be as energy efficient as possible. This applies not only to private households, but also to industry, which has a chance to lower the cost of production and, by extension, gain a competitive advantage. The Ecodesign Directive wants to strengthen the market for efficient and environmentally sound products, whilst also harnessing the major potential for improving the energy performance of devices and products.

Product-specific ecodesign regulations

Under the EU Ecodesign Directive, the European Commission draws up product-specific regulations on ecodesign. Industry, consumer and environmental associations and the Member States are also involved in this work. The product-specific regulations resulting from this process stipulate binding minimum requirements for environmentally sound product design. At present, 22 product groups are subject to such implementing regulations.

The Federal Government is always actively involved in the drafting of the regulations and coordinates closely with industry, environmental and consumer associations. The Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing has been commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy to organise events for assessing the proposals tabled by the European Commission. The results are then fed back into the process at European level. Across all product groups, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy always argues in favour of solutions that are technology-neutral and environmentally and economically sound.

Market surveillance by the Länder authorities

In Germany, monitoring compliance with ecodesign rules is a task that falls to the market surveillance authorities of the Länder. The exact remit is set out in the German Energy-related Products Act (EVPG) and the Ordinance implementing the Energy-related Products Act, which transpose the provisions of the Ecodesign Directive into national law.