A £350 washing machine and a £1,500 ‘smart’ dishwasher are among the first products to be named a Which? Eco Buy – as the consumer champion makes a major commitment to satisfying the huge demand for better information about choosing sustainable products and services.
A Bosch dishwasher and a Grundig washing machine are among 34 appliances to be recommended as Which?’s first Eco Buys – products that stand out from hundreds of appliances tested by Which? because they use less energy or water, last longer and are easier to repair.
For most people a large appliance is an expensive purchase and, depending on the product, it can be costly to run and repair. Millions of large household appliances are thrown into landfill every year.
Which?’s new Eco Buy is the first recommendation of its kind to look specifically at the sustainability of appliances. The consumer champion is initially focusing its rigorous testing on dishwashers and washing machines that have the least harmful impact on the environment while still saving customers’ money, and it intends to roll out Eco Buys in multiple other categories in the coming months.
The new Eco Buy badge joins Which?’s iconic ‘Best Buy’ and ‘Don’t Buy’ labels, both of which have helped to influence manufacturers’ behaviour for decades and improved the safety of hundreds of products, including child car seats, by prompting recalls on Which? Don’t Buys.
In Britain, the average washing machine is thrown away after less than six and a half years, but research from the consumer champion suggests Which? Eco Buys could be expected to last as long as 22 years. While a common misconception might be that customers would have to pay a premium for a more sustainable model, the cheapest of the Eco Buy products – a £329 Bosch washing machine – is approximately £150 cheaper to buy than the average machine.
As part of the new Eco Buy recommendation, Which? has introduced a new repairability element to its testing. Every washing machine and dishwasher tested by Which? will now go through extra scrutiny to test how easy common faults are to repair.
Some machines, for example, are sealed shut and can not be easily fixed – even by professionals – meaning that they are more likely to be replaced and end up in landfill when they break down. A repairable appliance, however, will not only be easier to fix, but potentially cheaper to mend and will last longer as a result – making it more sustainable overall.
Combined with repairability and reliability, the recommendation also takes into account energy efficiency to award the new accolade. By using less energy and less water, an Eco Buy dishwasher could save the typical household £15 a year on their household bills compared with the average model.
Which? is committed to giving consumers who want to reduce their environmental impact greater confidence to make better choices, and to working with manufacturers and policymakers to ensure a wide range of sustainable products are available to consumers – holding companies to account where they fail to do their bit.
Michael Briggs, Which? Head of Sustainability said:
“We know people care about reducing their carbon footprint, but every day shoppers face complicated jargon, misleading claims and products that fail to live up to expectations.
“The Eco Buy shows Which?’s commitment to helping consumers find products that are less likely to break down and will save them money. Our aim is also to incentivise manufacturers to up their game and make products that are less harmful to the environment.”
Notes to editors:
- Which? is bringing sustainability into its product testing so consumers can make better choices. Starting with washing machines and dishwashers that use less energy or water, last longer and are easier to repair, we’ll extend Eco Buy to other products soon.
- In 1958 Which? first coined the iconic term ‘Best Buy’. It was in the second issue of Which? – the inaugural winner was Boots 365 Talcum Powder.
- In December 2019, more than 1,300 Which? members were asked what sustainability issues mattered most when buying a new product. Almost unanimously, longevity, energy use and repairability were the three most important factors. This sent a clear message: Which? needs to make it easier for you to see which products will be the most sustainable.
- According to a Which? Connect panel in January 2018, two thirds (66%) of members wanted more sustainability information.
- Which? surveyed 13,274 Which? members between August and September 2020 to estimate the lifetime of different brands of large home appliances.
Eco Buy logo
First four Eco Buys
As part of the launch of the Which? Eco Buy recommendation, the consumer champion has chosen to release the first four Eco Buys:
Bosch SMS25EI00G/01 – £400
It’s efficient with both water and energy – adding less than £40 a year to your energy bill – a definite bonus for those looking to make a saving, and help the planet.
Miele G7362 SCVi – £1,499
- The auto program is super-efficient. Despite cleaning 14 place settings, it would cost just over £40 a year, based on running it five times a week. This is among the most frugal auto programs we’ve seen.
- The eco program reduced the energy use by almost 20%
Haier HW120 B14876 – £629.89
- There’s no getting away from it, this Haier washing machine does a superb job of removing stains while it washes. We tested it at 40°C on both its cottons and its synthetics programmes and the results were excellent on both.
- It costs more to run than most, simply due to its mammoth 12kg capacity, but per kg of clothes, it’s more energy efficient than most, and you could also save money due to needing to do fewer larger washes.
Grundig GWN48430CW – £350
- Tough stains are no match for this Grundig. It is brilliant at cleaning cottons and synthetic fabrics, giving them both an excellent wash.
- The spin is effective too, banishing the majority of water from your laundry so it won’t have to spend as much time drying.
- It has a long 5-year warranty included (something normally reserved for expensive models). And it’s more energy efficient than most washing machines, possibly saving you a bit of money on your energy bills compared to similar Best Buys.
- A lot of carbon emissions come from using appliances day-in and day-out. In April 2020 Which? estimated that the 40 million washing machines in the UK add up to 2.26 million tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere each year. That’s more than all of Manchester’s annual CO2 emissions.
- A UN report in July said that Britain generated more electronic waste per person than any other country except Norway, with the average person discarding goods weighing a total of 23.9kg annually compared with a global average of 7.3kg.
- In Britain the average washing machine is thrown away after 6.3 years, down from about ten years in 2005, according to the Green Alliance. Two thirds of people in Britain are often frustrated by products that do not last, and three quarters want the government to do something about it, according to a survey commissioned by the think tank.
- The UK’s Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) is also beginning a project aimed at better understanding how consumer protection legislation can be used to tackle false or misleading environmental claims.
- The project will focus on how claims about the environmental impact of products and services are made, and whether these claims are supported by evidence. The CMA will also look at whether environmental claims influence consumers’ behaviour when purchasing goods and services, and whether they are misled by an absence of information about the environmental impact of products and services.