The Unified Water Label Association (UWLA) was established in 2020 to drive forward the implementation of the Unified Water Label across Europe, and replaces the former governing body, the European Bathroom Forum (EBF). The European Bathroom Forum was formed to facilitate and host the Unified Water Label in 2017. In this year the ‘Best of Both’ leading to the ‘Best of All’ initiative was launched.  This brings together several European Water Labelling schemes, harmonising technical data and moving to one label under the banner of the Unified Water Label (UWL).

The UWLA is run by an elected board of directors, with a general assembly that sets and manages the direction of the scheme. It operates under a transparent system, with all documents available for brands to view.  Rules and regulations allow for all registered brands to have equal voting rights.  The UWL is open to all companies selling a relevant product that meets the Scheme criteria on the EU, EFTA and EEA markets

Leading European bathroom manufacturers, representing the sanitaryware, taps and valve sectors collectively recognise the desire to have one product label across Europe and support the Unified Water Label. Over 160 brands, representing around 70% of the European and 80% of the UK bathroom industry, currently use the Unified Water Label on products, promoting its use on packaging, on websites and on marketing material. Registrations are growing every week with respected brands coming on board, and other countries requesting the Unified Water Label, such as Iceland and Malta.

Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity of the organisation?

The UWLA is responsible for administering the UWL.  This involves hosting the website and providing everything that companies need to register their brands.  The UWLA website provides easy access for everything that a business needs to use the label; downloaded images, guides for use, marketing material, how to guides and much more.

Technical criteria have been established for all of the current products, with working parties looking at bringing in new product criteria every year.

Currently the UWL includes 13 different categories for water using bathroom products that covers: 

  • Shower heads
  • Shower controls
  • Taps
  • WC suites and cisterns 
  • Baths
  • Re-circulating showers
  • Spray seats and WC’s will be the next group of products to be added.

Research shows that in the UK 60% of water used within the home is in the bathroom with showers using 22% and WCs less than 20%.  In Europe 12% of total water use is in the home.

The UWLA also operates an audit system.  In 2023 thirty-five brands were called for audit. The audit process ensures that a consistent standard is maintained, all registered Unified Water Label products are eligible to undergo an audit by a recognised method as identified on the Test House Audit Process.

E.E: What’s the news for 2024 about new directions?

Aims and objectives for 2024 include: 

  • Increase market representation
  • Improve visibility across European countries 
  • Partner with National Bodies 
  • Improve communication across Registered Brands across Technical and Marketing departments
  • Strengthen the UWL’s position as ‘THE’ recognised label for Water across Europe
  • Improve knowledge on water efficiency and reduce water waste
  • Enhance criteria to include: Repair, Recycle and Reuse

E.E: What can you tell us about market trends?

The topic of sustainability will become much more important in 2024.  KBB manufacturers and retailers will place sustainability higher up the business agenda, as they respond to changes in consumer perceptions about eco products.

The UWLA will be focusing on supporting these companies by educating consumers on the benefits of using less water in their homes.

Using less water will move away from being something that was a sacrifice for the consumer, in terms of performance, as more products that deliver the same experience but use less water come to market.

Consumer habits are changing. Data shows water efficient products are increasing in popularity, and sales with data from the European Commission identify that water use is decreasing.

Yvonne Orgil, Managing Director at Unified Water Label

E.E: What estimations do you have for 2024?

2024 will be a pivotal year for water efficiency. Environmental labelling will go further, with governments increasingly looking to influence and even legislate. The complete life cycle of products will also become more important as consumers will look more closely at the repair, recycle and reuse elements of products.

The UWL is totally aligned with the ethos of Environmental Labelling and our work will encourage manufacturers to ‘buy’ into this thinking ensuring their products deliver the performance but use less water.  During 2014 the UWLA will also look at pushing boundaries to deliver more than the standards set, aiming for greater performance with less use of water.

A greater emphasis on the circular economy will empower consumers to purchase green/ sustainable products more easily.  The European bathroom sector is leading the way and 2014 promises to be an exciting year for water efficiency.