How is Portugal implementing the Directive (2009/125/EC) and contributing to the proposed objectives with Eco-design projects?

How is Portugal implementing the Directive (2009/125/EC) and contributing to the proposed objectives with Eco-design projects?

Mon 30 Oct 2023

In the recent years, both consumers and businesses have become increasingly conscious of environmental issues. The latter have realised that it is not necessary to make large investments in order to achieve a significant reduction in their environmental footprint as a return on investment, often combined with a reduction in costs. One of the measures that can be taken to achieve these goals is the implementation of the eco-design methodology.

Eco-design is a methodology that covers the entire life cycle of a product, from raw material extraction to product design and end-of-life disposal, intending to minimise its environmental impact. Integrating environmental considerations from the beginning of the product development process is the most effective way to achieve changes that positively affect the environmental profile of the product at all stages of its life cycle. The benefits of implementation can potentially include

  • reducing costs for both producers and consumers
  • improving product quality
  • promoting innovation
  • ensuring compliance with environmental legislation and customer requirements.

Ensuring the sustainability and longevity of a product is now the goal of many companies. Aspects that were previously in the background have now come to the fore. For example, using recycled materials and introducing biodegradable materials makes pruducts recyclable and compostable, reducing their impact on the environment. In addition, companies can increase investment in technologies that enable the reuse or reduction of the raw material used in making a product, thereby promoting greater global energy efficiency.

The European Union has set targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% from 1990 levels by 2023. The ultimate goal is to achieve zero emissions by 2050. It is, therefore, necessary to act now to adopt techniques and technologies and to design/develop products that will enable us to meet these targets.

The European Union (EU) has issued a Directive (2009/125/EC) requiring Member States to set mandatory environmental requirements for around 40 product groups, which account for around 40% of EU greenhouse gas emissions. A proposal for a new regulation on eco-design of sustainable products (2022) has already been made, reinforcing the importance of such approaches in the production and development of new products.

How is Portugal contributing?

Developing new products and new technologies using the eco-design methodology is a laborious process. It is necessary to ensure that any proposed changes meet the requirements for which the product has been designed and that the introduction of possible new materials or manufacturing techniques does not compromise the final product.

The capacity of a product to overcome a challenge, which may or may not result in a new or improved product, and the uncertainties associated with its realisation, are characteristics that perfectly describe research and development projects. In Portugal it is possible to receive a tax credit in relation to the qualifying expenditure incurred in R&D projects, under the ‘SIFIDE’ tax incentive programme.

Expenditure relating to technical personnel, raw materials, the acquisition of tangible fixed assets, the contracting of services from third parties and other expenditures may qualify for a tax credit of up to 82.5% of the final investment value which may be deducted from taxable income or refunded in cash. At present, such projects are subject to a tax credit on qualifying costs of 10%, which will rise to 20%. So, for every EUR 100.000 invested, companies will have an increase of EUR 16.500 (at the credit rate of 20%).

In order to demonstrate the implementation of the project and compliance with the eco-design principles, the application will need to identify the main environmental aspects and impacts of the product throughout its life cycle, as well as the way in which these impacts are determined.

It is also necessary to select the strategy or strategies to be used, among them!

  • development of new concepts
  • use of materials with low environmental impact
  • reduction of material consumption
  • cleaner production determined by product design choices
  • improvement of the distribution system
  • reduction of environmental impact during use
  • increase of product durability
  • improvement of the end-of-life system
  • other related aspects to be determined. It is also necessary to list the measures implemented and planned for each strategy used

By properly setting out the description of the project and its strategy, objectives and expected results, it is possible for a company to benefit from a tax credit for the expenses incurred in carrying out the work related to eco-design activities.


Environmental awareness is growing among both businesses and consumers. Companies are trying to reduce their environmental impact while cutting production costs.

The European Union has set various targets for both 2030 and 2050. One of the ways to achieve these targets was the introduction of the Directive (2009/125/EC), which establishes that the implementation of the eco-design methodology in products is a key element of the community’s integrated product policy strategy. As a preventive approach aimed at optimising the environmental performance of products while preserving their functional characteristics, it offers new and effective opportunities for manufacturers, consumers, and society in general.

Portugal values companies that align themselves with these goals and strive for an increasingly sustainable society based on a circular and low-carbon economy.

The Portuguese implementation of the eco-design methodology requires companies to carry out complex research and development work.  In some cases this can represent a significant investment, the cost of which can be mitigated through a claim for tax relief in support of R&D projects. Thanks to this incentive, a company can recover up to 82.5% of its R&D investment and benefit from a 20% bonus on its final investment if the projects are related to the eco-design methodology.