Government plans for new water label ‘extremely misguided’

Yvonne Orgill, the MD of the Unified Water Label Association (UWLA)
Yvonne Orgill, the MD of the Unified Water Label Association (UWLA)

The Government has strongly indicated that it will create a new product water efficiency label from scratch, despite the existence of the well-established Unified Water Label (UWLA) scheme backed by most major bathroom brands and suppliers.

The move has been branded “extremely misguided” by UWLA boss Yvonne Orgill (pictured) who says it will “create confusion and unnecessary expense”. Likewise, the Bathroom Manufacturers Association has blasted the plan as a “shocking waste” and “painfully unrealistic”.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) launched a consultation on proposals to introduce a mandatory label for display on toilets, urinals, and non-electric showers as well as kitchen and bathroom taps. Domestic appliances that use water, such as washing machines, dishwashers and washer/dryers were also included in the proposals.

This could mean retailers will face action from authorities if they don’t display compulsory water labelling in their showrooms.

The results of that consultation came out this week and proposed a projected launch of mandatory water efficiency labelling regulations next year with implementation by 2025. However, it strongly implies that this scheme will be set up from scratch, bypassing the existing UWLA scheme, despite much of the detailed aims and methodology being virtually identical.

Post-Brexit, it also indicates that this would be a UK-only scheme whereas the UWLA is adopted across Europe. This would, according to Orgill, create burdensome extra administration for manufacturers that operate across both regions.

“The cost of reinventing the wheel by developing new technical criteria, testing products and setting up a whole new scheme, when this already exists via the Unified Water Label, is not only expensive for the industry but a waste of public money,” Orgill said. “Government is extremely misguided in spending time and money developing a label when there is a recognised and existing scheme developed by the industry, that they could utilise, at much less cost and more effectively.

“The document also omits any mention of a campaign to influence consumer behaviour, which is essential for any scheme to succeed, and something that the UWLA has been addressing since the schemes inception. The UWLA is fully committed to helping government address the issue of water efficiency but believes that it could work with, and listen to, industry more.”

Tom Reynolds, CEO of the BMA, said: “It’s deeply concerning to see such a redundant reinvention of the wheel when the Unified Water Label offers a viable and efficient solution. The cost savings alone, in contrast to the proposed £20 million expense for the new scheme, should have prompted a closer look at the UWL.”

Given the current ambiguity, Reynolds says the BMA is strongly recommending manufacturers to continue to utilise the Unified Water Label “until a clearer path emerges”.

Both UWLA and BMA say they will continue to lobby Defra to adopt the current water label scheme.

kbbreview has contacted Defra for comment.

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