Water labeling should be voluntary, says BMA

The Bathroom Manufacturers Association (BMA) has come out against mandatory labelling of water-using products, arguing that voluntary labels are the best solution.

The Association was responding to a statement made by Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, in a speech at the Waterwise Conference on 19 March, 2019. The speech addressed a variety of methods that could be used to help reduce the average consumption from 140 litres per person per day to 100 litres. Sir James said:

“Recent research showed that a mandatory water label for water-using products, combined with product standards and Building Regulations, could reduce per capita consumption by 30 litres a day in 25 years.”

BMA CEO Yvonne Orgill comments: “Whilst the Environment Agency are right to raise this issue and we support their efforts, the BMA does not believe that a mandatory water label scheme and controls via Building Regulations will lead to the required changes in consumer behaviour.

“There is already a water label for bathroom products in the marketplace which provides information on water consumption, helping consumers to make more informed decisions.”

The Unified Water Label (UWL) is a voluntary scheme that is currently used by over 155 brands and registered with more than 13,200 products across Europe.

“A mandatory label will be expensive for the government and is likely to be a one-size-fits-all solution in order to deal with the complexities of different products, consumer behaviours and the varied types of water pressure in UK homes,” says Yvonne Orgill. “We must also look at how consumers select and use their bathroom products, as there is huge scope to save water by changing their habits.”

The BMA points to the example of homes that have a WC more than 20 years old, saying that they will be using twice as much water per flush as a modern dual flush WC. The BMA’s recent research into consumer behaviour in the bathroom found that people flush the WC on average eight times per person per day. On that basis, argues Orgill, there is a potential savings of 32 litres per person per day by just switching to a modern WC.

“The government’s target is to reduce water consumption by 40 litres per person per day, so this one change would almost meet this target.”

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