Bathroom industry slams surprise product ban speculation

Tom Reynolds BMA CEO

The revelation that the Government may be planning to ban power showers and restrict dual-flush toilets has angered bathroom manufacturers and led the BMA to suggest such action could undermine the water minister’s own water-saving targets.

The speculation emerged after a press conference held last week by environment secretary Therese Coffey and water minister Rebecca Pow to unveil Defra’s Plan for Water suggested that bans of certain products were possible.

The Plan for Water sets out the Government’s plan for more investment, stronger regulation and tougher enforcement on water companies and aims to “tackle the challenges around water resources across the whole of society, including businesses, regulators, government and households”.

Reports in the national press suggested that some ministers want to go as far as banning high-flow products from sale.

While the Bathroom Manufacturers Association welcomes much of the Water Plan’s proposals, it fears that these surprise product bans could backfire on the Government and criticised the lack of consultation.

BMA CEO Tom Reynolds said: “It is incredibly poor form that no minister or official thought to discuss with manufacturers the bans on some of our products before unveiling those plans in the media. The BMA has supported Government aspirations for water efficiency and has participated in recent Defra consultations in good faith.

“Plans for potential product bans have not been discussed up to now. The press coverage contains quite a bit of detail about potential bans on specific products, yet no views were sought from the manufacturers who will be most affected. It is a major snub after our previous hard work and collaboration.”

Speaking out on the subject of dual-flush toilets, which have been controversially attacked as more prone to leaks, the BMA points out that “well-maintained dual-flush toilet valves are a water-saver, and the industry has brought forward new products which engineer out leakage risks. Similarly, manufacturers have innovated new product ranges for showering, which deliver a great user experience with less water”.

Reynolds went on to criticise any proposed product bans as undermining manufacturers’ R&D efforts. He said:

“To even consider banning products is an entirely inappropriate step and clearly ill thought through. It will completely undermine the R&D effort of manufacturers who are actually making more water efficient homes possible right now. Rash bans on products will set back innovation.”

Reynolds concluded: “Power showers, or high-flow showers, are often used to mitigate poor water pressure. The UK has some of the lowest water pressures in Europe, so a plan for better pressure and cutting supply pipe leakage should come before telling consumers what showers they are allowed.

Other measures the Government has been considering includes a mandatory water label. The consultation period for manufacturers to register their views on this was closed late last year.

The Defra Water Plan comes after stark warnings from The Environment Agency that the UK could run out of water in the next 20 years. The UK uses some 14 billion litres of water a day and that is expected to increase by 4bn by 2050, leading the Government to unveil its target to reduce personal water consumption from 144 litres per person per day to 122 litres by 2038.

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