NEWS | Round-up

Government confirms mandatory water label

THE GOVERNMENT has announced plans to bring in a mandatory water efficiency label that could lead to KBB retailers being liable if they sell products that do not carry the label or visibly display it in their POS for products.

Announced on July 2, the new regulations are part of the Government’s 25-Year Environment Plan to reduce average personal water consumption to 110 litres per person per day by 2050. In a statement, Environment Secretary George Eustice said that the mandatory water label is being introduced to “inform consumers and encourage the purchase of more water-efficient products for both domestic and business use. We will consider the potential to achieve energy savings, as well as further water savings, and explore how these can be achieved in a way that minimises the impact on consumers.”

We will consider the potential to achieve energy savings, as well as further water savings, in a way that minimises the impact

He also revealed plans to “develop a roadmap towards greater water efficiency in new developments and retrofits in 2022”. This, it said, would include “the exploration of revised building regulations and how the development of technologies can contribute to meeting these standards”. While the very broad statement confirms the mandatory water label regulations, many in the industry will be waiting for further information on timescales and, crucially, how these regulations will be enforced – if at all.

on consumers George Eustice, Environment Secretary

What does the new water label mean for retailers?

After the announcement that the Government is to introduce a mandatory water label, BMA CEO Tom Reynolds and Unified Water Label managing director Yvonne Orgill appeared on The kbbreview Podcast to discuss the implications for retailers

Q & A

Q: Yvonne, you have been warning the industry that a mandatory labelling scheme might be on its way. So how are you feeling about it all now? Yvonne Orgill: I know it has come as a bit of a shock to many people who didn’t listen to what we’ve been saying for decades. Morally, it’s the right thing to do. I’m hopeful that the Government has got some common sense in there somewhere, and we’ll now use the tool that the industry has spent years developing to label bathroom pro ducts. But as we all know, the devil is in the detail. And it’s about what do you label?

Q: Tom, can you give us some broader context? Tom Reynolds: There’s a gap in the level of water resource availability and the demands that we’re going to


have in years to come. It seems counterintuitive talking about that in Britain, because we’re renowned for rainfall and grey skies. But they have been warning about these issues for some time.

There’s a big opportunity for our sector because the Government will set out a roadmap in the next year on the retrofit of water-efficient fittings within the domestic landscape. That’s a big market opportunity for our sector.

Q: What are you interpreting mandatory to mean? YO: I can only surmise from the discussions that we’ve had over the past few years that all water-using bathroom products will have to carry a label. And the label will depict how much water – per minute, volume, flush, etc – is going to be used by the [product].

That’s what we can guess at this moment in time. But we all know

within our sector that we purchase products as components and put them together, so does the hose, the handset, the headset and the valve all carry different labelling? This is the detail that has yet to be discussed and fought over as to what is the right way forward.

Q: As a retailer, what does this mean for me? TR: Well, at this stage, it sounds like a cop-out, but the simple answer is we don’t know until some of the detail behind the high-level announcements is unveiled. And that is only going to come with time. I understand they need to do a kind of further consultation to define some of these things. But the objective of making any labelling scheme mandatory is that it’s visible to the consumer to help them make informed choices. So we can expect to see a display at the point of sale as a part of the

mandatory component.

Q: In the future, could certain products that use too much water be banned? YO: Well, that could be a possibility in the future, though I don’t think the Government isn’t at that stage now. What the Government is trying to do is to get on the journey of water efficiency, use the industry’s tool – the Unified Water Label – to allow people to make an informed choice at the point of purchase. And rely on merchants, installers and retailers to explain what water efficiency means and to promote to the consumer, the end-user, how to use the product correctly and to save water, which ultimately, will reduce carbon emissions and save the householder some money along the way.

TR: We’re going to be forcefully campaigning for incenti visation, just as there’s incentivisation around new heating systems, insulation and solar power. It can’t be all stick, there has to be some carrot.

So there is an opportunity within the consultation that’s coming, within the next 18 months, to come together as an industry and make that case.

· August 2021

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