Circular appliances: a sustainable recipe

Paolo Falcioni, APPLiA Director General, presented at the ‘Energy Talks’, as part of the EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) 2021 and shared the main ingredients to circular appliances towards a more sustainable economy in Europe and the wider world.

Paolo Falcioni, APPLiA Director General, presented at the ‘Energy Talks’, as part of the EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) 2021 and shared the main ingredients to circular appliances towards a more sustainable economy in Europe and the wider world. 

The home appliance sector pursues circularity throughout the entire products’ lifecycle: beginning with raw materials followed by the design of the product, production, use and consumption, repair, recycling and recovery. At this latter stage, recycled waste is injected back into the economy as a secondary raw material and the cycle begins again. “In a circular economy, products serve their purpose for as long as possible before being turned into other home appliances or different tools which continue to offer a service to users,” detailed Mr Falcioni, introducing the main ‘ingredients’ put forward by the sector. With the purpose of guiding EU citizens through the product’s lifecycle, APPLiA has developed a main website providing several supportive information by means of concrete data. 

Over the years, home appliances have been delivering increasingly higher efficiency standards. From time optimisation to reduced energy bills, “such improvement in the overall efficiency of products also translate into improved standards of living for all EU citizens,” explained Mr Falcioni. According to data, the energy efficiency of appliances has been growing exponentially since 2008 and “the sector is continuously working to close the existing gaps and ultimately favour the energy transition,” he continued. To this extent, it is key that policy objectives, choices and incentives across all policy areas are clear and consistently implemented to create the market for sustainable circular business models and opportunities from a product lifecycle perspective.

Product durability and repairability are other two key ingredients to the master recipe. Long lasting products reduce resource consumption and waste. As such, this is a central element of Europe’s approach towards circularity and it is fully supported by the home appliance sector. When it comes to the repair stage, home appliances are repairable today. “According to data collected from APPLiA’s membership, 91% of requests to manufacturers for the repair of a product resulted in an actual repair in 2018,” stated Mr Falcioni. In this context, consumer protection and safety is a key element for maintaining trust with consumers and not to jeopardise efforts for implementation of the circular economy. 

A good implementation is key to a successful recipe. To this end, circularity involves each sector and each one of us. This lays the foundation of what APPLiA calls ‘circular culture’. Achieving it entails a circular process as applied to all the life stages of appliances. It is a societal change that involves all of us, as citizens, in the shift towards a circular model.