Leading DIY retailers, builders’ merchants and manufacturers are to introduce a voluntary labelling scheme to help consumers identify the water efficiency of bathroom fittings such as taps, showers, WCs and baths.
The new labelling will start to appear across a wide range of products next summer, and represents a significant step forward for the industry which has been seeking for some time the best way to provide consumers with clear water efficiency information.
The scheme will use the existing Water Label, which follows a similar approach to the Energy Efficiency Label found on white goods such as fridges and freezers. What’s new is that the label will be used on all bathroom fittings on sale – currently, the label is not used widely.
This means the label will be added to a much broader range of products. The data on water use will also be added at point-of-sale and on web sites over the next 12 months, so that information is readily available to consumers.
This, says the group behind the initiative, will give the industry time to make the necessary changes ready to start rolling out to consumers by the summer of 2014.
The label will help consumers to compare products on a ‘like for like’ basis and see which ones offer the greatest water savings.
Defra Environment Minister Richard Benyon said: “We all have a responsibility to use water wisely so this scheme is great news. Customers will be able to choose bathroom products based on their water efficiency rating, which may help them to save money on water bills and protect this valuable resource for future generations.
“I am delighted that the hard work and leadership of WRAP, merchants and manufacturers has made our White Paper commitment a reality.”
Water Using Products Working Group chair Tim Pollard (Head of Sustainability, Wolseley UK) said: “As an industry, we recognise the role we can all play in reducing water demand and cutting running costs for consumers, by promoting the uptake of water-efficient bathroom products such as taps, toilets, baths and showers.
“Today’s announcement demonstrates our collective commitment to make this aspiration a reality, and to help increase the focus on the need for water efficiency, not only in the UK, but more widely across Europe.”
Steve Lee, Bathroom Manufacturers Association President, said: “Water is one of our most precious yet most undervalued resources and we all have a responsibility to preserve it for the sake of future generations.
“The continuing growth and influence of the Water Label as a means of promoting a change in attitudes towards water has resulted from the hard work, dedication, and cooperation of a group of individuals who have come together to do what is right. I am delighted that the BMA has played a major role in the development of the scheme.”
Liz Goodwin, WRAP chief executive, said: “We welcomed the opportunity to work together with the sector to explore how water efficiency information could be made more readily available for consumers throughout the UK, to help them compare product performance and choose what’s right for them.
“The industry group members have worked very hard to make this a reality and I’m delighted that agreement has now been reached.”
Southern Water’s Chief Executive Officer, Matthew Wright, said: “The comprehensive use of the Water Label across bathroom products is a very significant development which is to be warmly welcomed.
“This will be the first time that customers will be able to clearly identify the most water- efficient products. Water companies are delighted to support this initiative as it complements our own plans to help customers save water, save energy and save money.”
Richard Lochhead, Scotland’s Environment Secretary, said: “I welcome actions which help the public to make informed decisions about products which are better for the environment. It is important that we use water efficiently as it is a valuable resource from which Scotland can benefit, so I commend the DIY industry for coming together to significantly expand the use of this labelling scheme.”
While a number of major manufacturers, merchants and retailers have already pledged their commitment to the new labelling, the group is keen to encourage others to sign up to the scheme.
Agreement to roll out the labelling across full product ranges for showers, taps, toilets and baths was reached by a cross-industry group brought together by WRAP, at the request of Defra, in response to the Government’s Water for Life White Paper. The group’s remit was to look at the role the sector could play in reducing water demand through increasing sales of water-efficient bathroom fittings.
Organisations will be invited to sign up to the commitment and report their achievements to WRAP on an annual basis. This will enable WRAP to collate and publish the total estimated water, energy and cost savings which their customers have made through buying more water-efficient fittings.
Members of the Working Group will be attending Q&A session at the Bathroom Manufacturers Association AGM on 3rd July from 13:00-15:00 at The Mere Resort, Chester Road, Knutsford, Cheshire WA16 6LJ. For further information contact 01782 631619 or email@example.com
The Water Label: http://www.europeanwaterlabel.eu/
The companies that have committed to label all of their showers, taps, toilets and baths with their water use are:
Argos, B&Q, Chandlers’ Building Supplies, Homebase, Travis Perkins, Saint Gobain, Wolseley UK and Southern Water
Defra White Paper http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/cm82/8230/8230.pdf
Members of the WRAP Water Using Products Working Group, which developed this agreement, are: B&Q, Chandlers’ Building Supplies, Home Retail Group (Argos and Homebase), Jewson, Travis Perkins, Wolseley UK, the Bathroom Manufacturers Association, The Water Label Company, The Builders Merchants Federation, Energy Saving Trust, Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and Southern Water.
WRAP’s vision is a world without waste, where resources are used sustainably. It works in partnership to help businesses, individuals and communities improve resource efficiency.
Established as a not-for-profit company in 2000, WRAP is backed by government funding from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
Follow us on Twitter at @Wrap_UK