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European standard for drinking water products moves closer

The creation of a European system of testing materials in contact with drinking water is moving closer thanks to a think-tank founded by manufacturers and trade organisations.

Currently manufacturers have to obtain certification from each relevant EU member state to sell products that come into contact with drinking water. Image: Viking JohnsonCurrently manufacturers have to obtain certification from each relevant EU member state to sell products that come into contact with drinking water. Image: Viking Johnson

British Water, through its membership of Aqua Europa, a confederation of water industry trade associations, has now joined forces with the Industry Consortium for Products in Contact with Drinking Water (ICPCDW), which is hoping to establish universal standards and certification across Europe.

The consortium is about to produce draft guidelines for plastics and is now looking for industry experts in elastomers for the next phase of its activity.

Convenor of ICPCDW Tony Frost said: “Many of the EU states have their own certification requirements. At present manufacturers have to obtain certification from each of the relevant member states in order to obtain approval for selling products which come into contact with drinking water.

“Testing is very expensive and very time consuming. It is a barrier to trade because it means if a product has been approved for use in the UK you can’t sell it in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy or France – because they all have their own testing regimes.

“We have identified 18 member states which have different certification requirements. It stymies product development, stymies innovation, and at the end of the day the consumer ends up paying.”

The ICPCDW is building on work done by a previous collaboration between France, Germany, The Netherlands and the UK, which attempted to draw up a harmonised set of standards and certification procedures. By bringing together trade organisations and manufacturers’ representatives from across Europe, ICPCDW aims to draw up draft regulations, which could then be adopted individually by countries or become part of European regulation.

Marta Perez, Technical Manager for British Water, says: “The lack of harmonised standards for products in contact with drinking water is something which affects manufacturers wishing to trade with Europe. By joining the ICPCDW British Water is ensuring the views of our members are heard and that UK companies have the chance to be part of a process which could eventually lead to a harmonised set of standards and remove barriers to European trade.”

The ICPCDW is expected to release a set of draft guidelines on plastics by the end of the year. A working group is currently being created to look at regulations relating to the use of elastomers and the consortium is actively looking for experts in this field from around Europe.

Chief Executive of British Water Ashley Roe said: “We are delighted to be a part of this industry-led drive to create a unified set of standards for materials which come into contact with drinking water, which may eventually be adopted across Europe. British Water represents the interests and views of our members and gives UK companies the opportunity to be part of the process by which new legislation is created.

“The lack of a harmonised set of standards across Europe is a significant barrier to trade and British Water will support efforts to harmonise testing regulations and make it easier for UK manufacturers to trade with other companies in Europe. People within the industry have wanted to see a standard regulatory system for some time and British Water is delighted progress is being made on this issue.”

To express interest in joining the working group, please email marta.perez@britishwater.co.uk. 

Author: James Brockett,
Topic: Asset Management
Tags: Europe , trade associations , drinking water

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