The EU hopes that stricter regulations can help reduce the 35m tonnes of potentially repairable products thrown away each year in the bloc – Copyright AFP/File Jade GAO
The EU’s executive arm proposed new rules on Wednesday that would force manufacturers to allow customers to repair broken products, in a bid to reduce the number of discarded products.
The EU estimates that the amount of viable products, such as dishwashers, televisions and mobile phones, that are disposed of prematurely in the bloc each year results in 35 million tonnes of waste.
Buying spare parts costs consumers 12 billion euros a year.
Under the proposals, part of Brussels’ ambitious green push, manufacturers will have to repair products still under warranty if they cost the same or less than a replacement.
Consumers will also have the right to demand that companies fix their products, if they can still be repaired, within 10 years of purchase, even if they are no longer under warranty.
“It is essential that consumers can repair their products more easily and buy less,” said EU Commissioner Didier Reynders.
“This will help support the environment by reducing waste and greenhouse gas emissions and resource use.”
The 10-year rule will apply to products that are subject to EU “repairability requirements,” and the bloc promises to add phones and tablets to that category soon.
The new regulations also seek to increase consumer awareness by having EU states set up online databases to help them find repairmen.
The proposals must now be negotiated between the European Parliament and member states before they can become law.
Consumer and environmental groups have long been pushing for the EU to tighten regulation to ensure companies offer easier options to help fix their products.
“More repairable and longer-lasting products are a no-brainer to save consumers money and the planet’s resources,” said Monique Goyens, director of the European Consumer Organization.
“Today’s proposal is the long-awaited instruction manual for the consumer’s right to repair, but it’s missing several pages.”
She said Brussels should consider extending the legal guarantee period beyond the current two-year period for more durable goods.
Green MEP Anna Cavazzini welcomed moves to prioritize fixing products still under warranty.
“Faulty smartphones or washing machines should be fixed as standard and not simply replaced with a new product,” he wrote on social media.
But he said it was necessary to make it easier for independent repairers to repair products “so that corporate giants like Apple no longer dictate the rules for repairs.”