Dealer representatives comprising C&C Catering Equipment’s sales director, Peter Farrell, Richard Smith, heavy equipment category controller at Bunzl Lockhart and Mark Kendall, director at Inox Equip and vice chairman at CEDA have tackled the topical issue of the EU Ecodesign Directive and its relevance following the referendum.

In Gram UK’s latest webinar last week, Glenn Roberts, MD of Hoshizaki Gram UK, navigated a conversation through the tempestuous subject.

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The debate tackled several key issues, such as: what the EU Ecodesign Directive is, who it affects, who is aware of its launch, as well as what role it plays following the referendum vote.

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Launched on 1 July, all refrigeration units must now adhere to a rigorous testing process and clearly label their energy efficiency rating against new Minimum Energy Performance standards (MEPs) set by the EU.

The webinar panel agreed that there seems to be a fundamental lack of awareness on the EU Ecodesign Directive and how it impacts the whole supply chain from manufacturer through to the end user.

Farrell brought the discussion back to Gram’s first webinar, which examined the need for education in the industry to help work towards a more sustainable future.

He suggested that the directive was currently somewhat of a grey area, with manufacturers largely in the know through necessity, while end users relied on kitchen houses, consultants, designers and distributors to provide legislative-compliant equipment.

Kendall continued the debate by acknowledging that consultants, distributors and designers had a responsibility to understand the EU Ecodesign Directive, enabling them to properly inform their clients.

Smith picked up on this point by adding that distributors and designers play a major role in conveying industry relevant messages.

He said manufacturers had worked hard to make information on the EU Ecodesign Directive readily available to the supply chain, with still more to come over the next 6-8 weeks, and it now needs to be utilised correctly to ensure the information gets the cut-through required.

Roberts agreed that preparations for the EU Ecodesign Directive had hugely impacted refrigeration manufacturers with a considerable amount of time and financial resources invested, adding that Hoshizaki Gram had worked hard to be completely transparent with its labelling information and offer some clarity on the new directive.

When quizzed on the EU Ecodesign Directive and whether it should be seen as a positive thing for the industry, the panel agreed that largely it should be accepted as a positive step towards safeguarding a sustainable future for foodservice.

Farrell sees the new legislation as the optimum way of providing an approved like for like comparison, allowing buyers to confidently purchase the most energy efficient equipment for their budget.

Roberts added: “It is always possible that dealers and purchasers will opt for a unit which has an initial cheaper purchase price.

“However, these are becoming a minority as more and more buyers are considering the lifetime running cost over the initial purchase price.

“With a lot of work having already been done to met MEPS, the manufacture of a lot of the models that don’t meet the minimum standards has ceased, meaning that it won’t be possible for buyers to opt for a unit that doesn’t have at least a G rating.”

On the subject as to whether the EU Ecodesign Directive is here to stay, the panel agreed that it was.

Kendall suggested this is because Britain will continue to export and import to and from Europe, which means that manufacturers will have to adhere to the MEPs.

A further suggestion was that over the coming months and years the new standards will set a benchmark for energy performance, not just within refrigeration.

In either case the panel predicted this kind of labelling system is expected to be launched across all heavy kitchen equipment.