Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme
Issue 1, 2022
The Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme newsletter is published to update you on developments and highlight some of our achievements.
If you have topics you’d like to see covered in future, please let us know.
Departmental changes for WELS
On 1 July 2022, the WELS team moved to the new Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW). The move is a result of the recent change of government. WELS has been working to ensure that the move is as streamlined for industry as possible.
We are now in the same department as the Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards Regulator, who we work closely with as the energy rating coregulator of dishwashers and washing machines.
Our website address for the registration database and scheme information, waterrating.gov.au, will remain unchanged. We will continue to keep our stakeholders informed about relevant changes as information becomes available.
New international standard for water efficiency labelling programmes
In a joint government and industry initiative, Australia has led the development of the world’s first international standard for establishing water efficiency labelling programs. With support of Standards Australia and the WELS team, Australian plumbing industry leader Dr Steve Cummings chaired a committee engaging with 37 member governments over four years to draft and publish the standard - see ISO 31600:2022 Water efficiency labelling programmes – Requirements with guidance for implementation.
The standard provides criteria to help developing countries to establish an effective water efficiency labelling program that will save them water and reduce emissions from heating and treating water. This international standard recognises that several countries, including Australia, have a well-established water efficiency labelling and standards program.
We thank Dr Cummings for his leadership, negotiation skills and commitment in helping Australia and countries around the world to save more water, and thank our international colleagues in this significant achievement.
Updates to the WELS Standard
The Australian and New Zealand WELS standard was updated in June 2022. The standard sets out the requirements that products must meet to be able to be registered and offered for sale in Australia.
The update to the standard introduces a range of improvements including increasing the star ratings available for showers to 5-star, requiring new labels for combination showers that will help consumers to more easily understand the water efficiency of both shower heads, raising the minimum water efficiency for plumbing products and dishwashers that can be registered for the Australian market, and requiring the WELS registration number to be included in product advertising text advice so that consumers can more easily confirm that a product is registered and meeting Australian Standards.
The changes to the standard were codeveloped by an industry and government Standards Australia committee, also chaired by Dr Cummings. While the changes are now in effect, the WELS Regulator has allowed reasonable timeframes for product registrants and sellers to adjust to the changes. See 'Transitioning to new Standard Amendments' to learn more. The full amended standard will be available for free download from Standards Australia within a few weeks, following a technical correction being required to the integrated copy of the standard.
Positive Compliance Action for Online Platforms
With online shopping continuing to grow, the WELS Compliance team have been focussed on scanning for products that are being offered for sale online that don’t meet WELS requirements and should not be on the Australian market.
Over the past year, the WELS team have also been working closely with the platform providers for eBay, Alibaba, AliExpress, Amazon and Wish to find and remove non-compliant products.
These companies have been collaborating with WELS to develop compliance policies to support their users and sellers agreements and to help with educating their sellers about meeting the requirements for Australia. Under special arrangements, the WELS team have authority to remove non-compliant product listings or to restrict seller account if sellers continue to not comply. In 2021-22 alone, the WELS team found 991 sellers who had noncompliant listings and removed 2787 products across the platforms and restricted the accounts of 40 sellers.
This work is cleaning up the market for online shoppers as well as helping to ensure a level playing field for the industries who manufacture and sell plumbing fittings and appliances for Australia.
Investing in Modernising our Registration System
The WELS team has started exploring how to improve our product registration database for all users.
Over the next few months, we will be running workshops with stakeholders to understand how they experience using the current system and to explore how to design a new and better system that is more user-friendly and efficient.
The new system is planned to be introduced in 2023, supported by information resources and education for businesses registering products.
Please contact WELS@awe.gov.au if you have any questions.