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EU lays down the law on green PCs

And boilers, and washing machines, and...

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Politicians in Europe are set to ink new regulations governing the efficiency of computers and a variety of other electrical goods and components, as part of a Directive aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions throughout the region.

UK Environment Minister Elliot Morley said that the Eco-Design for Energy Using Products Framework Directive will encourage better product design, particularly in tackling issues like power consumption during stand-by mode.

"Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide are needlessly produced every year by computers, digital set top boxes, chargers and many other products left on stand by mode," Morley said in a statement. Reducing this, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said, will make a significant contribution towards the recently proposed 20 per cent savings target from the European Commission.

The EC estimates that by making appliances more efficient, the EU region could reduce its CO2 emissions by 180 million tonnes in the next five years. This, it says, represents around half of the CO2 it has promised to cut under the Kyoto Treaty.

Morley concluded: "We know that products can be designed to be much more efficient and do less harm to the environment. Wasted energy is a hidden cost for consumers and in this day and age that is unacceptable."

As well as improving energy efficiency of a number of products, the directive is designed to prompt manufacturers to reduce the overall environmental impact of production and disposal of the products.

The directive will set mandatory standards that companies must comply with, Defra explains, but stresses that it is not intended to stifle businesses. Defra also argues that the directive emphasises the importance of voluntary action from businesses, to avoid the need for future regulation. ®

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