This page provides information on the New Zealand Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme (WELS) for retailers who sell water-using products, and businesses that manufacture and/or import them.
Who must display the labels?
Retailers in New Zealand are required to label new water-using products to indicate how water-efficient they are.
A new water efficiency label design was introduced on 1 October 2017 – check out the new design on the New Zealand Legislation website.
The scheme applies to the supply of, or offers to supply, new clothes washing machines, dishwashers, lavatories, showers, taps and urinal equipment. Section 13 of the regulations provides specifically for the information requirements when offering to supply on the Internet.
New Zealand importers and manufacturers are responsible for ensuring any products they import or manufacture are tested and meet the labelling requirements. The scheme does not apply to used goods, that is, equipment that has already been used by a person in New Zealand. The scheme also does not apply to products that are for export and will not 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 the 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.
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.
WELS came into effect on 1 April 2011. All products manufactured in New Zealand or imported into New Zealand on or after 1 April 2011 must comply with the WELS regulations. Revised regulations came into effect on 1 October 2017, including a new label design. Until 30 September 2019, suppliers of water-using equipment covered by the Regulations can comply with either:
- the Consumer Information Standards (Water Efficiency) Regulations 2010 or
- the Consumer Information Standards (Water Efficiency) Regulations 2017
After 30 September 2019, all suppliers must comply with the 2017 Regulations and use the new labels.
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 enforcement of 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, is able to 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
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Consumer Protection team on (04) 901 1499
For compliance issues contact the Commerce Commission on 0800 943 600 or (04) 924 3808