In early 2020, the European Commission announced plans for new ‘Right to Repair’ rules covering smartphones, tablets, and laptops in 2021, as part of a larger plan to combat e-waste and aid Europe on its path to obtaining climate neutrality by 2050.
In November of 2020, The European Parliament passed a historical resolution for the Right to Repair for consumers with 395 votes in favor and just 94 votes against it. The law requires companies to label their products to indicate how long it would last, and how their repairability rating is.
Europe’s ‘Right to Repair’ rules seek to make repairs more accessible to combat e-waste
The aim of the resolution seeks to make repairs easier to access by consumers, either by extending guarantees from manufacturers, providing guarantees for repaired parts, or by providing more reliable access to information on device repair and maintenance. from the European Parliament’s website.
“To be sustainable, products must be repairable, so that they can remain on the market for as long as possible. It is time to stamp out practices which prevent or hinder product repairs. On average, 70 % of Europeans would prefer to repair rather than replace a faulty product. However, sellers still tend to be much keener on product replacement.”
The European Union may also ban methods by companies that are “aimed at intentionally shortening the lifetime of a product, such as preventing repair at the design stage or causing a slowdown in performance after a software update” also known as planned obsolescence.
The first eco-design regulation that will establish measures for repair and useful life will come into power in March. Manufacturers of washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators, and monitors will have to guarantee that the components used in their machines can be replaced with common tools. Additionally, producers must supply spare parts within 15 days.
Europe is one of the largest markets in the world, and with over ten million tons of e-waste per year, the new EU guidelines that will force manufactures to make more durable products is a necessary shift. And this change is exactly what European citizens want.
While many tech companies might not be happy about the imminent shift, it is an absolute win for consumers. They will have sufficient information about how long will their electronic device purchase last, and will not be limited in terms of how it can be repaired. Whether it will make an actual impact on consumer purchasing habits is yet to be seen.