Information on the New Zealand Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme for retailers who sell water-using products and businesses that manufacture and/or import them.
New regulations took effect from 1 October 2017
All products manufactured in New Zealand or imported into New Zealand on or after 1 April 2011 must comply with the New Zealand Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme (WELS) regulations. Revised regulations came into effect on 1 October 2017, including a new label design.
The first WELS water efficiency label design was introduced on 1 October 2017 – check out the new design on the New Zealand Legislation website.
All suppliers of water-using equipment covered by the regulations must comply with the 2017 regulations (see below) and use the new labels.
Who must display the labels
Retailers in New Zealand are required to label new water-using products to show how water-efficient they are.
WELS only applies to the supply of, or offers to supply, these products:
- new clothes washing machines
- urinal equipment.
Section 13 of the Consumer Information Standards (Water Efficiency) Regulations 2017 (see above) provides specifically what information retailers/importers and manufacturers must provide when offering to supply products online.
New Zealand importers and manufacturers are responsible for ensuring any products they import or manufacture are tested and meet the labelling requirements.
WELS doesn't apply to used goods, that is, equipment that has already been used by a person in New Zealand. It also doesn't apply to products for export and that won't be sold in New Zealand.
Retailers must ensure products they display comply with the labelling requirements. Anyone supplying or offering to supply a product covered by WELS must ensure products clearly display a legible and applicable WELS label and in such a way that it is clear which product the label applies to. As defined by the Fair Trading Act 1986, “supply” includes gift, sale, exchange, lease, hire or hire purchase. Online sales are also covered by the WELS requirements. A text alternative to the label can be used, for example for online sales or where the product is too small to carry a label.
Water-using equipment must, when supplied or offered for supply, have the following displayed in a way that is easily readable, clearly visible and attributable to the equipment:
Clothes washing machines
Unpackaged clothes washing machines and dishwashers must either carry their WELS label on the product itself or on both sides of a swing tag affixed to the product.
If the product is packaged, the WELS label for that product must be displayed on the packaging.
For an offer on an Internet site to supply water-using equipment, either a reproduction of the product’s WELS label must be displayed (which can be scaled so long as it is still easily readable) or text information may be used which:
The stated wash programme for clothes washing machines and dishwashers must also be displayed online.
The WELS label for these products must either:
The WELS labels are similar in appearance to the energy-rating labels on appliances. Dishwashers and clothes washing machines should carry both labels because they use both energy and water.
How suppliers can access the label artwork
The labels can be downloaded from this secure brand website in a variety of formats. You will need to register and create a log in to download the label artwork. Note that we are in the process of updating the label style guide on this site.
We have recently revised our Information for suppliers and style guide for the New Zealand Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme.
Meeting the Standard
The Australia/New Zealand Standard for Water efficient products – Rating and labelling AS/NZS 6400 sets out the tests that must be performed on products to determine the information for WELS labelling. The Standard requires performance tests, so products tested for water efficiency must also be tested for functionality. A product is still allowed to be sold in New Zealand if it fails any of the tests, but it must carry a zero star-rated WELS label.
Manufacturers, importers, and retailers of water-using products in New Zealand have responsibilities under the WELS regulations. The regulations state that a person must not supply, or offer to supply, the regulated products unless they comply with the regulations.
The Commerce Commission is responsible for enforcing the Consumer Information Standard Regulations under the Fair Trading Act 1986, including the WELS regulations. Offences under the Fair Trading Act may attract fines of up to $30,000 for a company and $10,000 for an individual per offence.
Anyone, including consumers and competitors, can inform the Commerce Commission if they suspect breaches.
Australian WELS labels
Products with Australian WELS labels can be offered for sale in New Zealand.
The Australian WELS label is similar in appearance to the New Zealand label. The star rating and water consumption information on an Australian WELS label is determined through the same testing regime outlined in AS/NZS 6400 and is the same as it would be on a New Zealand product.
The main difference between the Australian and New Zealand schemes is that, in Australia, products must be listed in an online national database of products and their ratings. New Zealand consumers can use the Australian database to compare products which are sold in both Australia and New Zealand.
See Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme [Australian Government website]. Water-using products which are sold only in New Zealand will not be on this database.
For general enquiries about WELS contact the:
- Ministry for the Environment on 0800 499 700 or (04) 439 7400
For compliance issues contact the Commerce Commission on 0800 943 600 or (04) 924 3808.