Chief executive of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association Tom Reynolds looks back at the key events of the last year, and ahead to the challenges the next one holds.
Summarising 2022 is no easy feat, and ‘unprecedented’ remains the go-to word to describe the political and economic upheavals the country has seen. Here at the BMA, we have remained positive, reflecting the confidence required to navigate the challenges ahead.
Insofar as our activities to support our members, it has been another busy year lobbying, analysing Government policies and standards, hosting events and technical meetings and delivering our communications.
One standout area of activity has been around the Government’s intention to introduce a mandatory water label. Interaction began in March with our first Defra/BEIS steering group meeting on water efficiency policy, with discussions on differing approaches to labelling. Then, in September, Defra launched its 12-week water labelling consultation document. The BMA and a host of interested stakeholders have now submitted their responses, and we await the outcomes with the hope of a sensible approach.
Water efficiency ambitions are never far from our minds. We actively engage on several fronts, including involvement in the Water Efficiency Working Group meetings hosted by The Future Homes Hub. The meetings are held to develop an industry-led approach for improving the water efficiency of new homes and inform the Government’s water efficiency roadmap 2035 that supports the water sector on future water-efficiency measures.
The technical work undertaken this year has been extensive. We have participated in six CEN (European Committee for Standardization) committees for taps, sanitaryware, baths and showers and contributed to the development of nine standards, the most significant being the Taps and Shower Working Groups.
A significant area of work has been in the WC Specification development and full technical report for Defra. WC suites have been the centre of ongoing discussions for a considerable time in our industry. Water companies had raised concerns with "blue water", or water being drawn from the WC cistern back into the plumbing system, which prompted a decision to enforce the ‘AUK1 backflow arrangement’. A panel of experts made up of bathroom manufacturers, and water company representatives came together to review the backflow requirements and ensure compliance in manufacturing, the supply chain and installation so that our customers could continue their operations with minimal disruption.
In the year ahead, a consultation on the technical specifications for the Future Homes Standard will take place, with legislation expected in 2024. Changes in consumer behaviour to reduce domestic energy use are assumed in the strategy. To accommodate this, household products are increasingly under the spotlight. The Energy Related Products Policy Framework, released in November 2022, included illustrative plans for a wide range of products, including showers and taps. Unsurprisingly, the BMA is fully engaged with consultants working on behalf of BEIS, and we’ll keep on top of future developments.
2023 will undoubtedly be a challenging year for our industry. We will remain relentlessly positive and continue in our mission to deliver for our members, stakeholders and consumers.