Major changes in the labelling of bathroom products marketed throughout Europe take place on 01 July 2013 and for some manufacturers and importers it’s caught them napping.
The changes are mandatory and non-compliance can ultimately lead to imprisonment for up to 3 months and/or a fine of up to £5,000 per incident.
“It’s a serious issue,” commented Chris Taylor-Hamlin, Technical Director of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association. “Fortunately members of the BMA have been fully informed, through our technical committees, for over twelve months about the requirements of the new Regulations and have been able to plan changes to their inventory – it’s one of the many advantages of membership. But we have heard of some horror stories of suppliers who have been blissfully ignorant of the changes and are now having to spend thousands having their products tested and relabelled. It’s hit their bottom line.”
From now on there is the new requirement for all bathroom products covered by Harmonised European Standards to have the familiar CE Mark fixed to the product or its packaging.
CE marking is a key indicator of a product’s compliance with European legislation and enables its free movement within the European market. It is not a quality mark but it does indicate the product’s fitness for purpose.
By fixing the CE mark to a product, a manufacturer or importer openly declares its conformity with the legal requirements and ensures its validity to be sold throughout the EEA - the 27 member states of the EU and the European Free Trade Association countries of Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Turkey.
From July the new Construction Products Regulation, the CPR, which covers CE marking, requires that bathroom manufacturers and importers must ensure that their products, if covered by the mandatory harmonised European Standards, are tested and are CE marked.
The Construction Products Regulation also requires manufacturers and importers to ensure their products bear a type, batch or serial number, and to retain technical documentation for a period of 10 years after the product has been sold.
Ensuring compliance with the new regs is the responsibility of each EU Member State. Here in the UK, responsibility is split into regions. So for England, Wales and Scotland surveillance will be conducted by Trading Standards and for Northern Ireland, it will be conducted by the Environmental Health Authority. The Secretary of State is the ultimate Enforcement Authority.
“CE marking is a necessary burden,” says Taylor-Hamlin. “It outlaws non-compliant products, and highlights those suppliers who have no infrastructure for recording keeping and batch marking. These new regs mark a major step change in our industry.”