Yvonne Orgill appointed CEO for Unified Water Label

Outgoing Bathroom Manufacturers Association CEO Yvonne Orgill has been named chief executive of the Unified Water Label (UWL), the voluntary EU labelling scheme for water-using products.

Orgill told kbbreview that the plan is to step down from her BMA position in May and after a comprehensive handover process take up the new mantle at the UWL, which is likely to happen around late summer or September.

This is a new post at the UWL, which will be registered as a not-for-profit organisation under Belgian law. A steering committee at the UWL will be appointed by year-end and it will be funded from registrations to the label.

The announcement was made at a special event organised by the European Bathroom Forum (EBF), the consortium driving the single EU water label, at the ISH trade show in Frankfurt earlier this month.

Record numbers of international visitors descended on Frankfurt in March for the ISH 2019 trade fair to see the latest bathroom trends and technology innovations

The BMA said 115 companies attended the event to hear the latest news on the UWL.

The European Commission department responsible for EU policy on the environment – DG Environment – was also in the audience.

EBF chairman Carlos Velazquez gave an overview on progress to date.

Orgill said formalising the UWL is a “work in progress” and emphasised her commitment that by 2021, 80% of the UK market should meet the criteria dictated by the label so that it will be formally accepted in Brussels.

“We are on track to make this happen, but the question is whether we will achieve this in the necessary two years.”

Orgill said that she will be working alongside Tom Reynolds, the BMA’s CEO designate, to ensure continuity at the BMA over the coming months.

Tom Reynolds will soon take the reigns at the BMA

She said the support for the UWL event was “fantastic”, adding that DG Environment “reinforced their intention to work with us towards the goal of a voluntary agreement”.

Orgill added: “It is now important for the industry to progress the 80% target of units sold and demonstrate they are doing this.”

By 2021, 80% of the UK KBB industry must be registered with the EU water label or the EU will introduce a mandatory water-labelling scheme, that Orgill warns will be a “one-size-fits-all” solution, expensive to introduce, and not ideal.

Last week, Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, told a key conference that based on current projections the amount of water available in the UK by 2050 could be up to 15% less than today, resulting in “significant” water shortages in the most populated parts of the country.

He said water labelling on products like toilets and dishwashers was one measure that could contribute to reducing water usage and pointed to research that showed that a mandatory water label for water-using products, combined with product standards and building regulations, “could reduce per-capita consumption by 30 litres a day in 25 years”.

But Orgill said: “The BMA does not believe that a mandatory water label scheme and controls via building regulations will lead to the required changes in consumer behaviour.

“A mandatory label will be expensive for the Government and is likely to be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution in order to deal with the complexities of different products, consumer behaviours and the varied types of water pressure in UK homes.

“The BMA is supporting the voluntary Unified Water Label (UWL) which already exists in the market. The UWL is currently used by over 150 brands and registered with more than 13,000 products across Europe.

“The UWL provides a clear and simple system to identify water-saving products. Choosing UWL products, which are then installed and used correctly, will deliver environmental and cost-saving benefits, without any loss in performance for consumers.

“We must also look at how consumers select and use their bathroom products as there is huge scope to save water by changing their habits.”

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