New Environmental Standards for Computer Equipment and Furniture

Circular EconomyThe European Commission has adopted rigid requirements to the Ecolabel ЕU sign use.

Ljubljana. Within the framework of the Ecolabel ЕU (znak EU za okolje — labelling of environmentally friendly products in the EU) scheme, the European Commission has approved the new environmental standards for computer equipment, furniture and shoes. The manufacturers, who wish to use the  Ecolabel ЕU sign, must comply with strict requirements regarding the organic properties of the released products and at the same time take into account the established level of safety and its public image.

Manufacturers of computer equipment, such as personal computers, laptops, notebooks, tablets, will need to consider the level of energy efficiency and upgrade options during the development and production of devices. An important factor will be the possibility of a simple and affordable dismantling, repair and disposal of computer equipment and its components.

Restrictions on Using Hazardous Substances

Furniture manufacturers will need to carefully plan the cycles of product exploitation. They will have to pay particular attention to the use of hazardous compounds or their degradation products, which can pollute the air. On the shoe factories, it will be required to provide all conditions for the improvement of corporate team responsibility and ensure proper working conditions.

The objectives of the new environmental criteria include using materials produced in a more sustainable basis, taking into account the product life cycle analysis method, limiting the use of hazardous substances, monitoring levels of hazardous wastes and the furniture impact on the degree of air pollution in a room, as well as ensuring the smooth and high-quality work of products, which are easy and affordable to disassemble and repair.

Igor Milavec: Intensive Involvement of Management Design

As the Director of the Association of Woodworking and Furniture Industry at the Chamber of Commerce Igor Milavec notes in his interview to Delo, the latest standards of the European Commission have been long awaited for, because it becomes more and more clear that the environmental performance of products, as well as the level of their safety and public image of a manufacturer are very important. In his opinion, the Slovenian furniture manufacturers are well aware of this fact and each year take it into account with increasing consideration.

“This package, of course, also includes the careful use of raw materials and energy, as well as the planning of the associated therewith cycles of product exploitation. Companies will more carefully plan this cycle by applying various methods, such as “eco-design” and “management design”. Including the method of “management design” into the work of furniture manufacturers will be particularly intense in the current and the next years, because it will be the main topic of the training project called Centre for Advanced Training of Personnel for the Woodworking Industry (Kompetenčni center za razvoj kadrov v lesni industriji), which is funded by the Woodworking Industry Department of the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology. The funds are distributed by the Fund for Personnel Development and Scholarships (Sklad RS za razvoj kadrov in štipendiranje), and the consortium under the auspices of the Lesarski Grozd Centre will become the executor of the project,” Milavec notes.

At the same time, he adds that education and positive experience exchange are the best way to incorporate the above criteria of the European Commission and other market and legislation requirements into the process of woodworking and furniture companies. According to Igor Milavec, the Slovenian furniture industry today takes care about the control and rational use of hazardous substances in various ways. To improve the quality of work, the manufacturers will use the referred training courses for woodworking and furniture companies.

Fast Transition to the Circular Economy Model

Manufacturers of wooden furniture, which have received the Ecolabel ЕU sign based on the previous criteria, must ensure a transition period to adapt their products, so that they meet the new environmental criteria and requirements.

The EU, using the Ecolabel ЕU sign, aims to accelerate the transition to a circular economy through the promotion of sustainable production and consumption. As noted in the European Commission, the clear environmental criteria allow consumers to make informed decisions without compromising the product quality. On the other hand, the Ecolabel ЕU sign improves the reputation of manufacturers who produce reliable products and invest in modernization.