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Industry attitudes towards ecodesign standards for improved resource efficiency

Dalhammar, Carl
Journal of cleaner production 2016 v.123 pp. 155-166
attitudes and opinions, compliance, consumer behavior, design for environment, durability, energy efficiency, industry, issues and policy, markets, people, producer responsibility, recycling, supply chain, uncertainty
Current European regulations on producer responsibility provide limited incentives for ecodesign practices among manufacturers. Additional incentives for ‘design for resource efficiency’ and ‘design for recycling’ could be provided through mandatory design standards set under the Ecodesign Directive. While European manufacturers have become increasingly positive towards eco-design standards for energy efficiency, there is limited research on their attitudes towards standards related to resources and recycling. This contribution reviews current developments in European product policy and potential future ecodesign standards. Then the results of an interview study with people in Nordic industries are presented. The study is the first comprehensive interview study with industry related to new eco-design requirements to generate recycling and resource efficiency. Most interviewees were positive towards eco-design rules that improve product durability and enable more recycling, but less favorable towards requirements on recycled content, longer consumer guarantees, and requirements on ‘maximum disassembly time’. It appears as if manufacturers are especially negative towards requirements that are not possible to control through internal procedures but have supply chain implications, or where compliance is affected by consumer behavior. The study provides an insight into relevant concerns of industries, but policymakers need to be aware that historically manufacturers have always been concerned about new types of legal requirements as they create uncertainty in the market. As actors become more used to work with the new eco-design requirements, this uncertainty will decrease.