Independent review of the costs and benefits of water labelling options in the UK – Technical Report

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The evidence of pressure on water resources due to climate change, population growth and the need to protect the environment is driving Government policy on water efficiency and water resources management planning. The National Infrastructure Commission report “Preparing for a drier Britain” sets out that, without further action, there is a one in four chance over the next 30 years that large numbers of households will have their water supply cut off for an extended period because of severe drought. It estimates the economic impact of severe restrictions in England at between £25 and £40 billion. This builds on the Water UK Long Term Water Resources Planning Framework report, which highlighted that we can expect more frequent and severe droughts across the UK, not just the South East of England.

In January 2018 the Government published A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment. This document outlines the Government’s intentions to “work with the industry to set an ambitious personal consumption target and agree cost-effective measures to meet it”. The plan also sets out that the Government will work with a group led by Waterwise to improve water efficiency and customer involvement to explore the impact of introducing new water efficiency measures. This project contributes to delivering that commitment.

There are a number of policy and regulation changes and water industry initiatives that could have a role to play in meeting future ambitious per capita consumption targets. Using a water label to drive market transformation and consumer purchasing behaviour is an option that appears worthy of consideration given its apparent success in other countries

Water efficiency labelling refers to programmes that assess the amount of water used by fittings, fixtures and appliances and either provide a rating or an indication of whether this is efficient. The primary aim is to empower consumers to make choices favouring more water efficient appliances, but labelling schemes are often also integrated with wider programmes such as building regulations or incentive programmes (e.g. rebates).

This report includes:

  • Review of international water labelling schemes
  • Review of current UK water labelling
  • Scenario development
  • Cost benefit analysis
  • Action plan for implementation
  • Conclusions

Access the Technical Report here.