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European Union are set to increase environmental standards are adding an additional burden to Chinese makers of domestic appliances that are already struggling with shrinking foreign demand and rising production costs.

EU energy rules give a headache to Chinese manufacturers

The European Commission is expected to implement new ERP (energy-related products) rules for products such as air-conditioners by the end of this year or early 2012, while new ERP rules for water heaters, drum dryers and vacuum cleaners will come into place no later than early 2013, according to home appliances expert Huang Wenxiu from China Electric Apparatus Research Institute.

An energy-related products directive replaced the older eco-design directive introduced in November 2009, covering products that use energy such as microwaves and televisions and products that are energy-related such as double-glazed windows and showerheads.

EU nations began implementing the new ERP directive in November 2010, but the commission has yet to announce a full list of products that it will cover.

“The ERP directive, should it be extended to cover products made by Chinese companies, will without doubt add to their production costs, and furthermore, Chinese home appliance makers would have to provide data related to energy-saving and environmental protection,” the Southern Metropolis Daily quoted Huang as saying at an international home appliances exhibition on Oct. 17.

In July, the EU started to implement a new ROHS directive aimed at reducing the use of certain dangerous materials such as lead and mercury in electric and electronic equipment.

Higher environmental standards are also being introduced in other countries including the U.S., Britain and South Korea.

Huang said production costs for China’s home appliances exporters would continue to go up as the thresholds for environmental protection keep rising.

“This is an industry with lean profits, and with costs on the rise, product prices at the consumer end are also expected to increase,” he warned.

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