AMDEA Appliances of the Future conference sets the agenda for achieving net zero goals
This year’s AMDEA 2050: Appliances of the Future conference ‘The Road to Net Zero’ took place last Thursday (21 September), and it was especially timely the day after UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, announced a U-turn on the Government’s climate commitments, by pushing back the deadline on key green targets, including the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, and the phasing out of gas boilers.
Organised by AMDEA (Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances), the event, which is now in its third year and was supported by City, University of London – where the conference was held – and the OPSS (Office for Product Safety and Standards), saw guest speakers from manufacturing, retail, regulation and policy focus on the next steps for achieving a sustainable home appliance industry, as we move towards a net zero future.
The one-day conference was split into three plenary sessions: ‘How Are Manufacturers Advancing on the Road to Net Zero?’; ‘How Are We Supporting Sustainable Householder Choices?’, and ‘How Will Regulation Enable the Delivery of Net Zero?’ Each session comprised a keynote speech and a panel discussion, with the chance for delegates to ask questions.
The conference was chaired by broadcaster and technology expert, Maggie Philbin OBE.
Kevin Hollinrake MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business, gave an opening keynote address via video. He said that achieving net zero targets and ambitions would impact on every aspect of our lives – home, work and play – and would have implications for the lifecycle and the safety of the products we use, including how we operate, produce, dispose of and recycle them.
He said the OPSS, which is currently undertaking a Product Safety Review on regulatory framework to make sure it is fit for now, as well as for the changing landscape ahead of us, has a key role to play.
Ahead of the manufacturer-led panel discussion, AMDEA CEO, Paul Hide, gave a keynote presentation in which he explained how AMDEA is supporting its members to deliver a more sustainable future for the home appliance sector, but also helping to provide more sustainable choices for householders when purchasing appliances.
Said Mr Hide: “There’s no doubt that appliances have a big role to play in supporting the achievement of net zero homes. Estimates suggest that within the 29 million UK homes, there are at least 130 million large appliances and over 300 million small appliances.
He explained that AMDEA’s responsibility is to ensure there is a net zero action plan across the full supply chain – from sustainable raw materials and sourcing precious minerals to carbon-and water-neutral manufacturing, net zero delivery to the customer’s home, net zero impact in use and full recyclability and material recovery at the end of an appliance’s maximum useful life.
“That’s a true circular economy,” he said.
Speaking as part of the manufacturer panel session, which included senior representatives from Beko UK, BSH Home Appliances, Haier Europe and Miele UK, Teresa Arbuckle, AMDEA Chair and MD of Beko UK and Ireland, said she is pleased that energy efficiency is high on appliance manufacturers’ agendas and in their marketing.
Citing the IFA 2023 trade show in Berlin (1-5 September) as a good example of how eco messaging is everywhere, she said: “This year it was energy efficiency to the max – every single manufacturer was showing off recycled materials in their products.
“It made me so happy because it says that we, as manufacturers – and human beings, are realising that we have to do something, and that we have to contribute to some part of net zero to get there.”
Also at this year’s 2050: Appliances of the Future conference, City, University of London announced that AMDEA is sponsoring PhD research into the self-engineering of smart appliances using Augmented and Virtual Reality.
Delegates had an opportunity to visit City University’s AR/VR suite and see manufacturers’ product demonstrations in the showcase area.
Mr Hide concluded: “There is no other UK event that brings together such a wide range of stakeholders and it allows us to pause and reflect on our joint progress in delivering net zero homes, to consider how far we’ve come in the past 12 months, and to discuss the priorities and milestones – both near-term and on the pathway to 2050.”
Look out for the full report from the 2050: Appliances of the Future conference in the October edition of ERT.