UWLA MD Yvonne Orgill says the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' plan for the mandatory water label announced on 29th September will not be good for the industry, and calls your support to help reverse the Government's decision.
Defra’s conclusion from the consultation is a mandatory water label for relevant consumer goods, for the UK only. The detail is sketchy, with Defra proposing that these will be discussed during the next two years with a host of workshops yet to be planned. The timescale for introduction of this mandatory label is 2025, which is considered extremely unlikely by most industry commentators.
It seems that Defra is intent on pursuing its own solution, despite the overwhelming support for the Unified Water Label from industry. There are many areas of concern within Defra’s report, apart from the confusion and extra expense, it is possible that trying to introduce a mandatory label could actually be detrimental to the reduction in water use that has already been achieved.
The inclusion of a third-party certification system, could cost industry over £50million pounds, it will create uncertainty with long waiting times on testing capacity for many SME’s, already striving to survive during these difficult markets. Many manufacturers could see additional packaging with escalation of SKUs dependent on cross borders and channels to market, a further increase of costs that may or may not be passed to the consumer.
Additional areas for concern for the sector are the ones governing regulation, as for WCs this will see triple legislation. Other product categories will also be impacted depending on which standards/legislation is used for conformity.
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 scheme’s inception.
The UWL is an established tool that does play a key role in achieving the Government’s Water Demand Target, whilst also giving consumers the information they need to make informed decisions. Recent research by The European Energy Network identified that consumers liked the Unified Water Label because if was simple and easy to understand.
It is also worth noting consultation is based on outdated evidence, and that during 2022 and 2023 the UWL has grown substantially with increased registrations and improved visibility of the label in the marketplace. Registrations are growing every week with respected brands coming on board, and other countries requesting the Unified Water Label, such as Iceland and Malta.
For a UK Government department to dismiss a UK-born scheme and continually quote an Australian scheme seems absurd, especially when both are equally recognised within ISO 31600 for Water Efficiency Labelling schemes.
The UWLA is fully committed to helping Government address the issue of water efficiency but we believe that it could work with, and listen to industry more. We believe that we can put a strong case to Government and turn around this decision. With the support of members, we will continue to lobby and enhance the UWL, whilst growing the database – demonstrating to Government that our industry does have a credible solution with the UWL.
Those interested in supporting the UWLA can find out more by visiting the website www.uwla.eu.