Yvonne Orgill – Changing consumer behaviour is key to water efficiency

InsightFeatures Fri 8th Sep 2023 by KBBFocus

Yvonne Orgill – Changing consumer behaviour is key to water efficiency

Yvonne Orgill – Changing consumer behaviour is key to water efficiency

UWLA MD Yvonne Orgill says that the importance of changing consumer behaviour cannot be underestimated if we are to achieve the significant water savings needed in the home.

The Ofwat consultation on Scoping the Water Efficiency Fund August/September 2023, identifies that a focus on changing consumer behaviour is key to meeting Government targets to achieve a sustained and measurable reduction in water demand nationally. The consultation seeks to address how best to apply the allocated fund of up to £100million to help stimulate a transformative, sustained and measurable reduction in water demand nationally, using a range of water efficiency approaches.

The consultation states that: ‘It is more important than ever to manage demand for water in England and Wales and the sector is at risk of falling short of its long-term aspirations and targets in this area. Water companies are predicting that by 2050 we will need 25% more than the water currently put into supply to meet demand.’

The Unified Water Lable Association (UWLA) is putting together a response from our members, and I would urge others to take a look and make their own comments. The proposals included in the consultation are subject to change and if industry engages at this stage, we can influence how this fund is allocated. Our response will support the focus on changing consumer behaviour, as well as recommend that the expertise and support that already exists within the Unified Water Label Association is harnessed to help government meet their goals.

The UWLA has a robust solution in the Unified Water Label, and can directly address the question posed in the consultation: ‘How can we most effectively bring in expertise from other sectors and disciplines while also making use of and nurturing the expertise that already exists in this sector?’

The Unified Water Label is a smart tool, already supported by industry that is visible in the market place, and changing consumer perceptions. We fully support that behaviour change is key and have made this an important part of our focus at UWLA. Manufacturers have developed innovative and water-efficient products but without educating consumers on how best to use them, we will not see significant change. We have been working with every element of the supply chain, from installers to retailers, providing them with the tools to communicate the water efficiency message.

The development of a well-resourced, collaborative, sustained and wide scale campaign, as proposed in the consultation, would enhance our work in this area. We do not support an enforcement approach or product restrictions via a mandatory label. This solution is likely to be ineffective, allowing poor quality products into the market without robust market surveillance. Consumers will move to purchasing from overseas and install these products on variable pressure systems, due to poor and inadequate infrastructure. Furthermore a reduction in standards is likely to lead to more water being used and even increased health risks.

Another consideration is the cost. A mandatory label will be significantly more expensive than a voluntary one, and a mandatory scheme will take away the flexibility that the industry now has to operate a scheme to meet market demands. 

On behalf of the Unified Water Label Association, I would urge the KBB industry to work with us for the benefit of all, to promote our own recognised and industry led smart tool – the Unified Water Label.

The consultation is out for comment until the 22nd September and can be found here.

Tags: insight, features, yvonne orgill, uwla, unified water label

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