Another directive affecting electronic products is coming down the pipeline from the European Union (EU). The EuP, or Eco-Design Requirements for Energy Using Products, will take form over the coming year. By August 2007, the EU will clarify the new restrictions affecting electronic products. The goal of the directive is to reduce the consumption of energy in the process of manufacturing electronic products as well as limiting the energy used in operating those products.
At present, the EuP includes items such as boilers, heaters, computers, fax machines, copiers, printers, TVs, lighting systems used in offices and on streets, indoor ventilation systems, electric motors, electric fans, refrigerators, dish washers, and laundry machines. The products covered by EuP will be restricted to items that have total distribution of at least 200,000 units in Europe. That’s not 200,000 units per manufacturer, but 200,000 total including all versions of the product.
The EU’s Industrial Development Board (IPD), which is operated under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, has indicated the EuP will affect a total of 27,000 domestic companies. The directive encourages companies to produce products that conserve energy and it encourages companies to develop energy-saving manufacturing processes, but so far, the directive doesn’t set out guidelines indicating exactly what the EU expects from manufacturers in reaching energy conservation goals. The exact requirements of the directive are still in the processes of being determined. “There are no legal requirements,” says Michael Kirschner, president of Design Chain Associates, a San Francisco-based company that helps manufacturers formulate environmental compliance strategies. “There is nothing binding and the EU has until next August to come up with the law.”
The IPD notes that the initiative is “expected to increase the effectiveness and synergies of other EU legislative acts and initiatives concerning environmental aspects of products.” Those other initiatives include WEEE and RoHS. Another initiative that will dovetail with the EuP will be a product labeling directive that will provide an “Eco-label” for products deemed compliant with the EU’s various environmental directives.
Kirschner notes that electronic product manufacturers don’t necessarily need to do anything right now in regards to the EuP. “It’s not going to mean anything real soon, but it will mean something later on to manufacturers of products that are sold in volume in the EU,” says Kirschner. “Our customers are sort of aware of it. They are starting to ask about it, but there is little visibility on it.”
Large manufacturers, however, are already preparing for EuP. “Some of the large OEMs are involved in working on trying to set the direction of EuP as well as complying with it,” says Kirschner. “The limitation measures will be out next August, and then we’ll know more about the timeline.”
The EuP, along with RoHS, WEEE and REACH is one more example of the EU leading a global move toward environmentally friendly electronic products. If the worldwide response to RoHS and WEEE is any example, you can expect the EuP and REACH to prompt corresponding directives in Asia and North America.