ESPR: Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (EU)

Discover how the EU's new Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) impacts your business, including Digital Product Passports and sustainable practices for unsold goods.
Official Name
Proposal for a Regulation Of The European Parliament And Of The Council establishing a framework for setting ecodesign requirements for sustainable products and repealing Directive 2009/125/EC
Making sustainable products the norm in the EU and promote a circular economy
European Union (EU)

Key takeaways

Overview: Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR)

The EU's new Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) aims to make products more environmentally friendly throughout their life cycle. It sets stricter ecodesign requirements for a wider range of products compared to the previous regulation. This will not only reduce environmental impact but also create a level playing field for businesses in the EU and potentially set global standards for sustainability.

The European Union is taking a big step towards a greener future with the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR). This regulation aims to reduce the environmental impacts of products and improve the functioning of the internal EU market.

Previously, varying national regulations created inconsistencies in the requirements for product sustainability, so to achieve broader impact, the ESPR establishes uniform sustainability standards. These standards ensure products sold in the EU minimize their environmental impact throughout their entire life cycle, from resource extraction to disposal. Creating a level playing field for businesses that prioritize sustainability.

In simpler terms, the ESPR leverages the EU's massive market power and aims to set global standards for product sustainability. It does so by creating a framework and sustainability requirements that products placed on the EU market will have to follow. 

To achieve these sustainability goals the ESPR expands on the earlier Ecodesign Directive 2009/125/E. While that Directive focused mainly on energy-related products, the ESPR will cover a wider range of products, from textiles to electronics and creates stricter sustainability standards

The ESPR includes: 

  • Sets eco-friendly rules for products: This means companies selling items in the EU will need to follow these rules to make their products more environmentally friendly throughout their entire lifespan.
  • Requires certain products to have a Digital Product Passport: This passport acts like a digital ID card, containing specific information about the product's environmental impact throughout its lifecycle.
  • Encourages eco-friendly procurement: This pushes governments in the EU to purchase products that are better for the environment.
  • Stops the waste of unsold products: This aims to prevent companies from just throwing away perfectly good products that haven't been sold.

Terms to Know: Eco-Design Requirement

A performance requirement or an information requirement aimed at making a product more environmentally sustainable.

Which industries does ESPR apply to?

The ESPR applies to almost all physical products that are placed on the EU market or put into service. Some product categories are exempt when ecodesign criteria are impractical or covered by other regulations such as medical products and food. 

All economic operators, such as manufacturers, importers, dealers, service providers that introduce products on the EU market are subjected to the obligations of the ESPR. 

Almost every physical product in the EU (think clothes, furniture, electronics) needs to follow these new eco-friendly rules. There are some exceptions, like for food and medicine, because making special ecodesign requirements wouldn't make sense for those products, or they're already covered by other laws.

These eco-friendly rules apply to everyone who brings these products to Europe to sell, not just the makers. This includes companies that import, sell, or service these products.

ESPR Requirements

The ESPR provides the legal basis for setting the ecodesign requirements, however these requirements will vary per product category. In the delegated acts, the specific requirements per product category will be outlined, these are still under development and will be published by January 2026.

However, there is a lot that we know today. First, product categories with a significant environmental impact will be prioritized. Textiles are a key focus area of the European union and will for sure be in scope for the first release of the ESPR

The ESPR, the foundation for setting ecodesign rules, will provide any and every textile product in the EU with a Digital Product Passport. As mentioned before, the exact requirements will follow in Q1 2026. But here is the information that is currently available. 

Terms to Know: Delegated Act

A piece of regulation that provides more specific rules and requirements tailored to particular categories, jurisdictions or contexts, to more general EU regulation.

Terms to Know: Delegated Act for Textiles

The delegated act for textiles from the ESPR will set specific ecodesign requirements that textile products have to comply with, these requirements are likely to be different for other product categories such as furniture or batteries.

Requirement 1: Product Design

Products placed on the EU market will need to follow ecodesign requirements addressing (the 9Ps):

  1. product durability and reliability
  2. product reusability
  3. product upgradability, reparability, maintenance and refurbishment;
  4. presence of substances of concern in products
  5. product energy and resource efficiency
  6. Products’ recycled content 
  7. product remanufacturing and recycling
  8. products’ carbon and environmental footprints
  9. products’ expected generation of waste material

Requirement 2: Digital Product Passport

Selected product categories will need a Digital Product Passport (DPP). This is basically a digital record containing key information about the product's entire lifespan. The purpose of a Digital Product Passport is to enhance transparency, traceability, and sustainability throughout its lifecycle and support the principles of the circular economy. 

The ESPR requires a DPP to follow these criteria:

  • A data carrier like a QR code or NFC tag: This tag will be linked to a unique code, like a fingerprint, that identifies the specific product's digital passport.
  • The data carrier accompanies the product: Find it on the product, packaging, or manual. This data carrier, like the QR code, has to be placed directly on the product itself, on its packaging, or on any documents that it comes with. The exact location will be decided later in specific.
  • Standardized code for easy reading: Both the data carrier (like the QR code) and the unique code will follow a specific format to ensure everyone can understand them. This format is based on an international standard called ISO/IEC 15459:2015.
  • Clear and accessible information: The information in the digital passport itself needs to be easy for machines to read and understand. It should also be available in a format that can be shared and used by different systems (interoperable). 
  • Details to be decided later: Specific details like the level of detail required in the passport (information for the product model, a specific batch, or each individual item) and who can access this information will be further decided in the delegated acts.

Learn More: Digital Product Passports by Tappr

Tappr integrates with existing product information management (PIM) systems and generates unique QR codes. By scanning these QR codes, consumers can access the DPP directly, fostering transparency and brand interaction.

🔗 See how Tappr works

Requirement 3: Reduce Waste for Unsold Products

Rules to reduce waste are introduced by the ESPR, meaning that businesses will have to be more open about what happens to products they can’t sell. 

They will be required to make this information publicly available and disclose on: 

  • The number of unsold consumer products that they throw away;
  • The reason why these products were thrown away;
  • In what way they disposed of them according to the principles of waste hierarchy, which is a set of guidelines that prioritize how waste should be managed to minimize environmental impact.

The EU commission will adopt specific regulations on how this information has to be precisely presented, checked and verified and has the power to introduce laws to stop the destruction of unsold products. 

Requirement 4: Criteria for Green Public Procurement

The ESPR sets Green Public Procurement (GPP) criteria for products and services that are being bought by governments and public institutions. By mandating GPP criteria, the ESPR ensures environmental factors are taken into account alongside price when governments buy certain goods and services. This shift towards GPP has a ripple effect: increased demand for sustainable products incentivizes businesses to invest in eco-friendly options, ultimately accelerating a greener economy.

Terms to Know: Green Public Procurement

Green Public Procurement (GPP) is a process where public authorities, like governments and institutions, seek to purchase goods and services that have a reduced environmental impact throughout their entire lifecycle.

Current status & timeline of ESPR

On April 23, 2024 the EU Parliament officially adopted the ESPR and it is currently awaiting the final approval of the EU council to come into effect. After this, the delegated acts laying out the specific requirements per product category will be developed. Product categories such as textiles are prioritized.

Timeline Details
March 30, 2022 EU Commission proposes the ESPR as part of the CEAP (Circular Economy Action Plan).
December 5, 2023 Provisional Agreement for the ESPR has been reached between the European Parliament and the European Council.
April 23, 2024 The EU Parliament formally adopts the ESPR.
May 27, 2024 EU Council gave final approval of the ESPR, meaning that the ESPR is officially adopted.
June 28, 2024 The ESPR is published in the Official Journal of the European Union.
July 18, 2024 The ESPR enters into force.
April 2025 Adoption of the ESPR working plan.
January 2026 Delegated act for textile DPPs will be published, containing the specific requirements for the DPPs of textile products.
July 2027 Textile DPP enters into force.

Note: This table includes both past and upcoming deadlines. Upcoming dates that are shaded indicate the expected timeline, but these are subject to change. Please refer to EU Parliament resources for any changes.

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