The European Commission has finally published its proposed Sustainable Consumption and Production Plan after much behind the scenes wrangling over its proposed contents.

The plan, if implemented, would see the current Eco-design of energy using products (EUP) directive extended to cover products that do not themselves consume energy but have an indirect effect on energy usage. The Commission’s press release notes windows and showerheads as examples of such products, which, with appropriate design features, could reduce energy consumption. Other revisions to the EUP directive would include minimum requirements and voluntary benchmarks of environmental performance.

The Energy Labelling Directive, which requires manufacturers to provide information on the energy consumption of certain products, and the ‘EU Eco-label’, a voluntary labelling scheme aimed at encouraging manufacturers to make more environmentally friendly goods, are also to be extended to encompass a larger number of products.

The plan would also enable member states to award incentives to encourage the uptake of products reaching minimum standards of environmental performance by consumers. The Commission intends to allow member states to decide exactly what form the incentives will take. Better promotion of green public procurement is also envisaged by, among other measures, specifying common environmental criteria required to be met before the award of a supply contract by a public authority.

Measures to boost resource efficiency and support eco-innovation, as well as revise the voluntary ecomanagement and audit scheme (EMAS), are also proposed, as is the establishment of a ‘Retail Forum’ to reduce the carbon impact of retailers and to better inform consumers about sustainable consumption.

The plan also has an international element that seeks to support businesses in the same sector to agree plans to reduce carbon emissions, to share good practice internationally and promote trade in environmental goods and services.