CORDIS - EU research results

ANTICSS - ANTI-Circumvention of Standards for better market Surveillance

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ANTICSS (ANTICSS - ANTI-Circumvention of Standards for better market Surveillance)

Reporting period: 2019-10-01 to 2021-09-30

Triggered by the diesel scandal, in which vehicles contained a certain defeat device that guaranteed compliance with emission limits during the test conditions while emissions in practice were much higher, the main objective of the ANTICSS project was a thorough investigation on whether such manipulations are also possible under EU ecodesign and energy labelling legislation, including capacity building and mitigation measures. Core tasks were to assess and clearly define circumvention in relation to EU Ecodesign and Energy labelling legislation and relevant harmonised standards, assess the potential impacts of circumvention and to prevent future circumvention acts under EU Ecodesign and Energy labelling.
The analysis of circumvention was based on collecting and learning from cases of circumvention by literature research as well as by analysing existing EU Ecodesign and Energy labelling legislation and standards for possible loopholes. To obtain further evidence from the market, ANTICSS organised a stakeholder consultation, approaching in total 278 experts from suppliers, market surveillance authorities, test labs as well as consumer and environmental NGOs. 38 organisations provided their feedback and 39 “suspect” product cases were reported and analysed in detail. As result, the following definitions have been developed:

Circumvention is the act of designing a product or prescribing test instructions, leading to an alteration of the behaviour or the properties of the product specifically in the test situation in order to reach more favourable results for any of the parameters specified in the relevant delegated or implemented act, or included in any of the documentations provided for the product. The act of circumvention is relevant only under test conditions and can be executed e.g.
a) by automatic detection of the test situation and alteration of the product performance and/or resource consumption during test, or
b) by pre-set or manual alteration of the product, affecting performance and/or resource consumption during test, or
c) by pre-set alteration of the performance within a short period after putting the product into service.

Jeopardy effects encompass all other design aspects of products or test instructions, or interpretation of test results which do not follow the goal of the EU ecodesign and/or labelling legislation of setting ecodesign requirements and providing reliable information about the resource consumption and/or performance of a product. These effects may be not classified as circumvention, but become possible due to loopholes or other weaknesses in standards or regulations.

When tested according to harmonised standards, at first glance a product appears to comply with all requirements. However, this is because the product or its settings have been manipulated, i.e. the test results are influenced in such a way that they become more favourable of what they would be without any manipulation. For this reason, it is rather impossible to detect circumvention through laboratory testing under harmonised standards specifications. One of the most important findings of the ANTICSS project is the need for a new approach for compliance verification, able to specifically address circumvention suspicions. The main procedure proposed by ANTICSS is the development of ‘modified’ measurement methods: only the parameter(s) of the standard test conditions considered prone to or under suspect of manipulation were slightly varied. At the same time, the modified test methods were still designed to be as close as possible to the methods in harmonised standards with the aim of ensuring comparability between the two sets of measurement results. In fact, only under the comparability of the two methods an inexplicably large variation in a measurement result(s) can be considered as an indication of a possible circumvention behaviour of the tested product.

ANTICSS analysed 8 product categories in detail where in 18 suspect cases, either hints for circumvention behaviour or jeopardy effects became apparent. 24 models were tested by ANTICSS in laboratories and 6 of them showed a kind of circumvention behaviour. Most refer to a pre-set or manual alteration of the product affecting the performance or resource consumption during testing. Especially a general reference to following manufacturer’s instructions given in some standards opens the door for possible misuse: manufacturers may require that specific test instructions, preparations or pre-treatments of the appliances are used specifically only by the test laboratories that have no comprehensible justification (e.g. technical or safety reasons), but are aimed at achieving more favourable results compared to other products that do not follow such instructions. In some cases, the specific product instructions may also be addressed to both test laboratories and consumers, with the favourable results achieved both in the test situation and during consumers’ usage, but for the latter only theoretically or in (extremely) infrequent situations. ANTICSS classified those cases as jeopardy effects and tested models with these results as borderline to circumvention.

According to ANTICSS, the discovered acts of circumvention and borderline to circumvention in the product categories washing machines, dishwashers, ovens, refrigerating appliances and TVs could sum up from 395 TJ (in the lowest option of the more realistic scenario) to 5,982 TJ (in the more theoretical extensive scenario) of potential primary energy savings that could be potentially lost each year, corresponding to 13,300 up to 201,800 tons of CO2 equivalents. Over the total lifespan of the appliances this would amount to around 2.4 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents.

ANTICSS focused its dissemination and awareness raising activities on the main target groups at European and national level, i.e. MSAs and test labs, policy makers, standardisation organisations, manufacturers, consumer and environmental NGOs. The outcomes of the project were regularly presented to MSAs at the meetings of the Administrative Cooperation Groups (AdCo) on ecodesign and energy labelling as well as at various meetings of national, European and international standardisation committees. For MSAs and test labs, the ANTICSS project team developed guidelines and presented them at webinars. ANTICSS published papers and presented them at the Electronic Goes Green conference in 2020 and the eceee Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in 2021. Finally, ANTICSS communicated its results through various means and channels (press releases, newsletters, articles, Twitter and LinkedIn, national workshops and final conference).
All actions of the ANTICSS project contributed significantly to the general understanding and overall awareness raising of relevant stakeholders to the topic and impacts of circumvention under EU ecodesign and energy labelling and thus deliver a significant progress on the path of anti-circumvention. This is highly important for society as detection and/or avoidance of circumvention contributes to the following aspects:
- Targeted reductions of electricity and resource consumption for product groups covered by EU ecodesign and energy labelling legislation will be better achieved.
- The overall trust of consumers, companies and society in the reliability and effectiveness of EU legislation will be strengthened.
Logo of the project 'ANTICSS - Anti-Circumvention of Standards for better Market Surveillance
Potential impacts (CO2) of circumvention / borderline to circumvention behaviour
Identified patterns providing indications for cases being more prone to circumvention
Potential impacts (losses primary energy) of circumvention / borderline to circumvention behaviour
ANTICSS categorisation of circumvention and jeopardy effects