Sustainability starts at home

Written by Paolo Falcioni on 2 December 2015 in Opinion Plus
Opinion Plus

Look again at your home appliances as they can help tackle climate change and green the economy says Paolo Falcioni.

Governments from across the world have descended upon Paris for the COP21 talks as they look to strike a deal to combat climate change and keep global warming below 2°C.

While much of the media interest is focused on this important meeting, I’d like to highlight the sixth annual sustainable innovation forum that will be taking place nearby on December 7-8.

Why? Because while the politics matter, so does all the work surrounding political decision making, not least the work of the business community and their efforts in contributing to securing a greener economy.


Improving our approach towards consumption requires a shift in mind-set, but also a helping hand from home appliances. In recognition of this, CECED, will be in Paris, making the case for sustainable growth through product innovation. We’ll be explaining how home appliances have not only contributed to sustainable development in the past but also what they can offer for the future well-being of citizens.

Home Appliances? Yes, home appliances. That fridge, washing machine, tumble-dryer, dishwasher, kettle, vacuum cleaner; they all have a positive future role in helping manage and cut consumer energy consumption.

It may not seem like much each time you chill some food, wash and dry some clothes, clean the dishes or make a pot of tea, but, taken together, across an expanding world population, using energy efficient appliances has become ever more important.

A simple example illustrates this effectively. To take just one appliance, a fridge today uses roughly one-quarter of the energy that was needed by a similar appliance twenty years ago. So, today, it is possible to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle while consuming less energy and thus putting less strain on the environment. Consumers need less electricity to use their machines.

It gets better. The debate about energy has now become “smarter”. Smart appliances are now not only energy efficient, contributing to lowering overall energy consumption: they can also contribute to balancing the available supply and demand for energy at certain times of the day while potentially tapping into electricity sourced from renewable energy.

A revolution is under way whereby the consumer becomes a de facto energy provider by accepting new approaches to energy consumption, through appliances, reducing the overall impact of his footprint on the environment.

Rewarding the consumer for embracing these changes and becoming an energy player will be one of the important challenges of the future. Consumers are willing to embrace change given the right approach. 85 per cent of Europeans believe they can play a role in protecting the environment according to a recent Eurobarometer survey.

Elsewhere, the 'Internet of Things' is destined to reconfigure all our perceptions of what appliances can and will do for the consumer. Just imagine a coffee maker that could schedule its own maintenance? Or a fridge that could tell you when your food was about to pass its expiry date? Savings all round for the longevity of an appliance or for avoiding food waste.

Our sector is not pretending that it can solve all problems through cutting energy consumption or managing energy needs. It isn’t claiming that it has a magic green button that will eliminate all the problems we face. But we can do something. Our approach? The challenges we face can be tackled through human effort and endeavour. Innovation.

Industry efforts will need the help of consumers to make its contribution. Building innovative appliances is not enough. Putting them on the market is not enough either. They need to be deployed within European households.

So please look again at those appliances that make your life comfortable when you get home tonight. Every appliance counts. Sustainability really does start at home.

About the author

Paolo Falcioni is the Director-General of the European Committee of Domestic Equipment Manufacturers (CECED)

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