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Building a greener road - all the way from the appliance factory to the shop floor

The latest edition of the Retail Forum for Sustainability was held on 11th December in Brussels, on the day Commission President Von der Leyen laid down its vision on how “to transform EU's economy and society to put it on a more sustainable path.”

People say that you never have a second chance to make a good first impression and this rule applies to home appliances. From the moment consumers enter a brick-and-mortar or an online shop, they rely on the explanation of its staff or website - which product consumes less energy and water, which one is less noisy, which one has outstanding functionalities, which one is the most reliable. This essential link between manufacturers, merchants and buyers must be kept and for a decade, the Retail Forum for Sustainability has been doing exactly that, bringing all players and illustrating what has been achieved, as well as where more efforts are needed. The latest edition was held on 11th December in Brussels, on the day Commission President Von der Leyen laid down its vision on how “to transform EU's economy and society to put it on a more sustainable path.”

The new European Commission will be able to step on solid shoulders. The Director General of APPLiA, Paolo Falcioni said that industry innovation and legislative measures have proved that appliances can be a means. Looking at the numbers of greenhouse gases, emissions for refrigerating have been constantly decreasing since 1990, dropping from 70 Mt to 28 Mt CO2 in 30 years. If we look at the long term, taking 2050 as the reference point, projections show a decrease of another 20 Mt CO2. Taking one of the most used appliances, since 1990 until today, washing machines have decreased their energy consumption with 75% and water consumption with 60%.

The European Green Deal draws the traits of a European Union that we strive for and to which the home appliance industry is ready to commit to. Already today, over 80% of the requests for repair result in repaired products, thanks to spare parts that manufacturers keep available for years. While this is a positive signal to circularity, Jan Panek, Head of Unit Consumer Policy at the Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers of the European Commission underlined that only a fraction of consumers actually opt for repair. Monique Goyens, heading the consumer organisation BEUC, further added that she notices a mismatch between the desire to follow a green lifestyle and behaviour. For this reason, the European Commission’s promise to make everyone "an active player" and not "a passive spectator" of Europe's sustainable ambitions is encouraging.

In the same spirit, "reliable, comparable and verifiable information" regarding companies making green-claims through the development of an electronic product passport sounds as a realistic, as long as fact-based, approach to complex measures. 

The European Green Deal is an ambitious plan that will play a key role for the future of the EU; a Europe fit for Digital Age will be the supporting arm as the only way forward we could envisage for an EU that moves with the times.