BMA | Water efficiency: A mandatory approach? 

Chief executive of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association (BMA) Tom Reynolds outlines what a mandatory water label will mean to retailers 

09 Dec, 22

Mitigating water scarcity will require a fundamental shift in behaviour and our approach. Tom Reynolds, chief executive of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association (BMA), outlines what a mandatory water label will mean to retailers 

Tom Reynolds BMA

Bathroom manufacturers recognise that reducing domestic water consumption is essential to address water scarcity, bringing more efficient and innovative products to market.

Products such as cold start taps, recirculating showers, heat recovery showers, ‘bubble showers’ and forced-air toilets provide consumers with a ‘greener’ choice.

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Research supports the fact homeowners trust the advice of a professional fitter when purchasing a new bathroom or individual products.

The link between the manufacturer, therefore, and the fitter is critical.

Suppose those on the front line of bathroom installation and retail aren’t aware of these products and their water-reducing properties.

In that case, customer choice will be limited, and efforts to reduce domestic water use will be even more challenging.

Retailers raise awareness

Awareness of how we, as consumers, can do our bit to reduce water use is vital.

Defra’s recently released consultation on a UK-wide mandatory water efficiency label for products such as taps, toilets, and urinals is a step in the right direction.

Still, if consumer confusion comes into play, the role of the retailer will become even more critical, and they, too, will need to assess the right product for the right environment.

Under Defra’s proposals, suppliers must assess their products’ water efficiency rating and include the label with the product and in their marketing literature.

However, crucially, retailers must make the label visible to the customer, including on showroom room sets, in-store or via the internet and catalogues.

Failure to do so could result in enforcement action from a national body.

Action policies required

While manufacturers, retailers, installers and customers can embark on this water-reduction journey, there are two policy areas that require immediate attention.

The first would be an ambitious and comprehensive plan to bring forward investment in new water supply infrastructure and maintenance to cut supply pipe leakage.

Consumers are all too aware of substantial leaks, so they must be confident water companies are doing their bit too. We should be all ‘in this together’.

Secondly, the government should hold a thorough education programme around water scarcity, promote water-efficient behaviours, like shorter showers, and how they should interpret the detail hosted on the water label to make the best choice.

Many manufacturers are already using the voluntary Unified Water Label (UWL) scheme run independently by the Unified Water Label Association.

We believe with the UWL, suppliers and retailers could deliver ubiquitous labelling far quicker, as the infrastructure around the scheme already exists.

One thing is certain, regardless of the final decisions made by Defra and the outcome of this consultation, the entire supply chain must all come together to ensure a simple and effective water label results in the intended outcomes.

With the addition of efforts from water companies to ensure a sustainable water supply and government education around water scarcity, we can and must reverse a water crisis looming in the UK.