Yvonne Orgill

Bathroom industry has two years to comply with EU water label

Bathroom product manufacturers selling into the European Union (EU) have two years to comply with the criteria of the Unified Water Label (UWL) after the European Commission gave its support for the industry to work towards the single labelling standard.

Industry trade body, the BMA, said this was “a significant advancement” for the industry but the real work starts now”.

Currently, 60% of manufacturers selling into the EU are compliant with the criteria of the label, which has been put together by the industry, but a key requirement of the UWL is that 80% of the market must be using the label for it to be formally accepted in Brussels.

Unified Water Label director and BMA chief executive Yvonne Orgill said that if the industry fails to get this voluntary agreement signed off in 2021, either the EU or individual governments will step in and introduce a mandatory label to inform customers of a product’s water and energy efficiency.

She said: “A mandatory label will mean extra backstops, which will mean extra cost for the manufacturers, retailers and end customers. It will also mean ultimately less consumer choice.

“Manufacturers must support us over the next two years, by registering all relevant tap and shower products and making the UWL visible.

“A body will be formed to drive this forward so that an independent auditor can assess if the requirement that 80% of the market is using the UWL is achieved.”

Orgill told kbbreview that retailers had a responsibility to educate and inform their customers of a product’s water efficiency and those businesses that embrace manufacturers using the UWL will be rewarded by the home-improvement market.

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“There is a lot of research out there pointing to the fact that shoppers are wanting to be more sustainable. They want to know how much water they are using. So offering products with the UWL is a commercial opportunity that can give them an edge in a fiercely competitive market.”

The UK Government is calling for water usage targets of 80 litres a day per person, down from current estimates of about 142 litres.

Orgill said running a tap for a minute while brushing your teeth could be using as much as six litres of water, while a shower could use as much as nine litres of water a minute, but the amounts could vary across products.

Orgill, who has been at the association for 33 years, announced last October that she would step down from her post once a successor has been found.

She said this process was “on track” with final round interviews under way. Orgill said she anticipates her successor being in place by the middle of the year, and she would step down after a suitable handover process.

She said this would complete by the end of the 2019, at which time she will take up a role of non-executive director, focusing on getting the water label signed off by Brussels, but also working with the BMA on other projects.

Speaking about Brussels supporting the bathroom industry’s water label, Carlos Velazquez, corporate marketing director at Roca Group, and chair of the European Bathroom Forum (EBF), said: “There is clearly a great passion to achieve harmonisation throughout Europe.

“We all recognise that this is a huge task, but one the industry is more than capable of achieving.”

  • The next EBF meeting will take place in Brussels on February 5 to formally agree the commitment. E-mail [email protected] to confirm attendance.

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