Tom Reynolds, chief executive at the BMA, reveals why he has written to the Government to obtain clarity around drinking water protection, and to urge a response to the Mandatory Water Labelling Consultation.
To ensure the highest consumer safety and water efficiency standards, the Bathroom Manufacturers Association (BMA) advocates for robust regulations within the UK bathroom sector. Our efforts to improve are constant, but two areas of concern are at the forefront of our thinking right now; the Government’s delayed response to the Mandatory Water Labelling Consultation and their plans for regulation concerning drinking water protection.
I remain optimistic that clarity will soon be forthcoming; however, I’ve recently written to Rebecca Pow, MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Environmental Quality and Resilience), to request an update on these urgent matters.
What’s the issue with drinking water?
The BMA recognises the importance of drinking water safety and its impact on public health. As an active European Drinking Water (EDW) alliance member, the BMA has observed the positive development of harmonised minimum hygiene requirements throughout Europe through the Drinking Water Directive (EU) 2020/2184. However, since the UK departed from the European Union, there has been a lack of clarity regarding the UK Government's intentions concerning regulation for drinking water protection.
To ensure the industry's ability to thrive and continue providing safe and reliable products, the importance of maintaining parallels with European legislation to prevent additional testing and costs for UK manufacturers when exporting to Europe is crucial. Therefore, our sector must have clarity on the Government's intentions.
What about the Mandatory Labelling Consultation?
The BMA and several members actively contributed to the consultation process on introducing mandatory water labelling in 2022. However, it’s a concern that we now have a delayed response from the Government; despite an indication that they would respond by May 2023, there have been no publications or updates on the matter as we enter June.
The BMA has been at the forefront of water efficiency initiatives for a significant period. Indeed, the voluntary Unified Water Label (UWL) scheme has garnered impressive participation from industry members. Recent BRG data analysis indicates that 85% of sanitaryware and 80% of tapware sold in the UK are covered by the UWL. In addition, a growing number of manufacturers are incorporating it into their literature. Major retailers like Ikea have also embraced the UWL at the point of sale, recognising its importance in promoting water efficiency.
Certainty is crucial for manufacturers to make informed decisions and plan effectively for the future, so this delay is a concern.
My letters to the Minister underscore the urgency for a timely response to both matters. By providing clarity and foresight, the Government can foster an environment that supports the thriving UK bathroom sector.
A collaborative discussion with the Minister, other officials, and industry stakeholders can lead to innovative solutions and drive progress towards safe drinking water and the Government's water demand targets as outlined in the Environmental Improvement Plan 2023.