Getting back to the future: Can we become even more sustainable?

Sustainability is a buzzword that features prominently almost everywhere we look. For the home appliance industry, the drive for sustainability is considerable and has multiple facets. But successful sustainability strategies can only happen within the right regulatory framework. 

Sustainability is a buzzword that features prominently almost everywhere we look. For the home appliance industry, the drive for sustainability is considerable and has multiple facets. But successful sustainability strategies can only happen within the right regulatory framework. To mark the occasion of APPLiA Hungary Day, our Director-General, Mr Paolo Falcioni, travelled to Budapest to meet the Secretariat of our sister organisation. The occasion also served as the perfect opportunity to reflect on the progress made thus far, while looking forward to uncovering what more can be done to push the boundaries, to unlock the full potential of our industry’s sustainable possibilities.

The establishment of a sustainable, ever-developing industry creates a win-win scenario for everyone. But what will it take to successfully implement a sustainable strategy for the sector, building on the great leaps taken thus far compared to previous decades? Falcioni began by tackling this question, calling on a personal experience: “60 years ago, my grandma used to carry her heavy bucket to the river to do the laundry, using the ashes from the fireplace, the night before. A lot has changed since then. With the touch of a button, today’s washing machines clean your clothes in a fraction of the time, in an energy-efficient manner. Less time-consuming, and more sustainable. Imagine what more can be done in the next 60 years?” The progress that can be made with advances in technology is exciting. Yet, importantly, legislation is needed to help shape future innovation, allowing innovative business models to flourish. "We need legislation to help us explore all viable options to becoming more sustainable," pointed Falcioni. 

Pointing towards legislation as the solution is easy, thankfully the facts support this view effectively. "Take, for example, the past year where Ecodesign requirements have saved us 120 billion euros in energy costs," highlighted Falcioni. As Europe braces itself to face the current energy crisis, shaping legislation such as the ecodesign requirements aimed at saving consumers money, while becoming more sustainable, is something we must all learn from. Here, the most recent Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation, which you may also know under the acronym of ESPR, aims to establish a policy landscape where sustainable products are the norm. For it to be successful, it must acknowledge that there is not only one approach to sustainability. "Products should be therefore assessed based on an aggregated evaluation of different parameters, from durability to material composition, which as a whole, define their sustainability," Falcioni outlined. Another cornerstone legislation is the 'Right to Repair'. The dilemma the home appliance industry faces here is whether to repair or not to repair. Without a doubt, choosing repair is a great choice for both the environment and the consumer's wallet, following this logic, consumers must be given the possibility to have their products repaired. This ensures that products are repaired, and, most importantly, repaired right. At a time when claims for self-repair are on the rise, consumer safety is a critical priority for the sector. "A repair cannot be carried out by each of us, simply because we may not have the required technical skills to repair the product right and this could risk compromising the safety of the home and our loved ones," concluded Falcioni. 

The answer is clear to us. " need legislation to help innovation and innovative business models to flourish.