Manufacturers obliged to make appliances easily repairable 

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EEB ECOS
EEB and ECOS
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Following a decision by European environment ministries, manufacturers will be obligated to make appliances easily repairable and long-lasting. 

European countries have now approved measures from the European Commission to include improved repair of items as part of the Ecodesign Directive.  

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This step has been taken to cut waste and greenhouse gases from manufacturing of consumer goods, with the measures entering into force from April 2021. 

The rules will apply to everyday items including lighting, washing machines, displays, dishwashers and fridges.  
 

According to the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and ECOS, this is good news for the environment and consumers. 

ECOS senior programme manager Chloe Fayole said: The agreement is a step in the right direction. From the US to Europe, people are demanding their right to repair the things they own because they’re tired of products that are designed to break prematurely. Enabling consumers to repair and reuse all electronic products is just common sense.” 

Repair professionals are set to keep control of most repair operations, with the new laws requiring producers to make most spare parts and repair manuals available to professional repairers only.  

This may restrict the access of independent repairers, repair cafés and consumers to some key replacement parts and information, limiting the availability and cost of repair services. 

EEB policy manager for circular economy, products and waste Stephane Arditi said: “When repair activities stay in the hands of a few firms, we’re missing an opportunity to make it more affordable and readily available. Small independent repairers can make a great contribution to the economy and our society. We need to help them do their job.” 

In November, NGO’s criticised the strong pressure from industry lobby groups, which pushed the European Commission to water down the proposals on repairability in favour of recyclability.  

Research from other sources undertaken by EEB and ECOS found that: 

  • The proportion of defective devices being replaced by consumers grew from 3.5% in 2004 to 8.3% in 2012 
  • A long-lasting washing machine will generate over 20 years 1.1. tonnes less CO2 than a short-lived model 
  • Electronic waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world 
  • Only 35% of electronic waste in the EU is collected and treated properly 
  • Illegal flows within the EU are estimated at 4.65 million tonnes in 2012. 

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