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What are the challenges for the manufacturers of home appliances worldwide? How do they deal with their countries’ regulations and what are the responsibilities to their consumers? What about their energy efficiency requirements, standards and what is the role of connectivity? 

These were among the numerous issues that were discussed on 8th March 2018 during the annual meeting of IRHMA, which took place in APPLiA’s office in Brussels. The meeting was attended by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers in the United States (AHAM), the delegation from the Japan Electrical Manufacturers' Association (JEMA) and the Korean Electronics Association (KEA).

The debate was even richer as apart from IRHMA’s members, two representatives of the European Businesses Association (AEB), based in Russia, joined the discussion. AEB presented not only how their association works, but also explained key legislative challenges for the home appliance sector there, such as the absence of waste collection infrastructure, the high targets for extended producer responsibility, the lack of investment to install recycling facilities and the existing administrative burden when it comes to the documentation of the recycling process.

AHAM representative talked about the policy issues that are on the top of the association’s agenda in the US, including the development of the ENERGY STAR, the government-backed voluntary programme for energy efficiency, refrigerant policy and the federal, state provincial activities on connectivity. AHAM also focused on the proactive efforts of the industry to deal with these challenges.

The need to reduce energy consumption and increase of energy generation in the home in Japan has resulted in new trends, such as the so-called “Zero Energy House”, which keeps the house cool in summer and warm in winter. JEMA representative also presented the Virtual Power Plant (VPP) which adjusts the supply and demand of the grid. He further mentioned that about two million homes in Japan have installed power generation in 2016.

The Korean association (KEA) emphasised on the fact that investment in IoT and innovation has increased. In 2017, the competition IoT Innovation Challenge aimed at promoting smart convergence products, services based on IoT and keeping up with the growing Industry 4.0. Although technology is undoubtedly developing, KEA is also facing the challenge of protectionism and the need to remove trade barriers, and boost trade.

Finally, APPLiA presented how proactive the home appliance sector in Europe has been by sharing some of its most recent initiatives and studies within which the Information for Recyclers platform (I4R), the Circular Society initiative and last but not least, its Material Flows study illustrating how circular the sector is.  The #SimplySmart demo again revealed how smart appliances can speak the same language, communicate effectively with energy managers and in this way contribute to energy and water savings. When discussing product measures, APPLiA noted that legislation is being finalised slowly, but still faster than the measurement method and that sometimes, transitional methods between two EU rules are needed. The evolving negotiations of the Brexit and the Goods Package proposal giving superpowers to market surveillance authorities were also discussed. 

The next roundtable meeting is going to be hosted by the Korean association in 2019.