Free riding and household appliances

Since 1997 the European household appliances industry has had voluntary agreements setting standards for energy efficiency of household appliances.

An average new European washing machine consumes 44% less energy and 62% less water compared to an average washing machine made in 1985, and today’s best refrigerators consume only a quarter of the energy used by a typical model made in 1990.

So, why is the industry organization, CECED, changing its approach radically and calling for legislative measures instead of voluntary agreements?

Lack of compliance with the voluntary agreements, and free riding by companies making false claims about the performance of their appliances.

“European manufacturers are as committed as ever to designing and marketing energy efficient appliances because it is the right thing to do and consumers expect that of us,” said CECED President, Magnus Yngen of Electrolux. “But governments must guarantee fair competition by enforcing the law and ensuring that product declarations are genuine–or our investment in high performing products is compromised. The next round of improvements needs to be driven by legislation that applies to all and is enforced on all.”…

“Too many governments are not stopping careless or unscrupulous operators from marketing products that claim better energy efficiency than they actually deliver,” says Yngen.“Free-riding must be strongly discouraged. Today we have a very worrisome situation where politicians set rules, expect companies to abide by them and then fail to invest the resources needed to stop the lawbreakers.”

CECED also praises the Italian system under which consumers get tax credits for buying new and more energy efficient appliances. This is of course what you would expect from an industry organization. It makes sense for CECED’s members; whether it makes sense for the rest of us is not clear.

CECED press release here (pdf), ht ENDS Europe Daily (subscription necessary).


2 thoughts on “Free riding and household appliances

  1. I bet that the industry is not seeking fairness but trying to recruit government to eliminate competitors. If the industry cartel has information about free-riders making false claims, why don’t they share it directly with consumers?

  2. Fear of China is probably a factor. Keep competitors out of the European market by constantly raising legally enforced standards so that firms with older technology can’t enter the market.

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