The Unified Water Label Association (UWLA) MD Yvonne Orgill is urging the industry to reinforce its commitment to the association and respond to the Government's consultation on introducing compulsory water labelling for fittings and water-using appliances sold across the UK – here she explains why.
Whilst we welcome the Government’s commitment to reducing water waste, we do not believe that a mandatory label imposed by Government is the best solution.
We do not consider it necessary or cost effective to develop a new labelling system when one is already in place. The Unified Water Label has been identified within the ISO Standard 31600:2022 as best practice. The International Organization for Standardization, (ISO) is an independent, non-governmental international organisation with a membership of 167 national standards bodies, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, (DEFRA), has stated in the consultation document that their approach is based on this standard.
The Unified Water Label demonstrates that industry can lead and can achieve Government goals. Industry understands their products and how they fit within the system, understands the diverse end user, and geographical differences that can influence behaviour change and purchase.
The Unified Water Label is robust, already established and growing. It is supported by the industry and has gained significant traction over the last 12 months, with retailers and merchants giving it greater visibility. It is the only label worldwide that covers 14 differing product categories, and the database includes 14,000 individual products, which is regularly accessed by 10,000 architects and specifiers. The label has also been used on 150,000 building or refurbishment projects internationally.
Significant progress has been made to introduce the label across the supply chain, working with bodies that represent manufacturers, installers and retailers. We have several international retailers supporting the Label, who will launch visible consumer campaigns this year, adding to our programme of driving forward changes in opinion and habits of consumers.
The UWLA has also carried out two successful pilot projects in schools and is working with quality KBB showrooms to develop a retailer pack, advising showrooms how best to display the label to consumers in a design led showroom.
The UWLA has been in regular contact with Defra and will be formally responding to the Government, outlining the strength and depth of support for the Unified Water Label. There are some areas where we will seek more clarity, especially those that detail the relative costs of a mandatory label versus a voluntary one. We believe that a mandatory label will be significantly more expensive for the industry than a voluntary one, and the proposed mandatory label does not allow for flexibility in how we sell our products across the variety of channels to market.
The proposals also outline requirements for displaying the label and product information that is much more onerous than those currently in place with the UWL, which will create more work and costs for manufacturers, and are likely to be unpopular with showroom owners.
A mandatory system will take away the flexibility that the industry now has to operate a system that meets their needs, and they will be exposed to an enforcement body that will have the power to impose sanctions.
We are asking the members and supporters to work with us for the benefit of the industry, and respond before the consultation closes in three months’ time on 25th November 2022.
The consultation policy document can be found HERE.