The Right to Repair rules in the European Union just got stronger as the European Parliament has voted in favor of the law. The EU had announced the ruling earlier this year as a part of the Circular Economy Action Plan. The new law mandates that devices should be useful for a longer period before they need to be recycled or dumped into a trashcan.
This is similar to the right to repair rules that the EU had introduced for household appliances including televisions, refrigerators, and washing machines last year. The new ruling now extends it to smartphones, tablets, and laptops. The EU Commission is now expected to “develop and introduce mandatory labeling, to provide clear, immediately visible and easy-to-understand information to consumers on the estimated lifetime and reparability of a product at the time of purchase.”
The EU will also expect manufacturers to introduce products that are more sustainably designed in the first place. They should be more durable, reusable, upgradeable, and constructed out of more recycled materials. The EU is also planning to introduce a new scheme that would help consumers easily sell or return old phones, tablets, and chargers. The right to repair rule is also a part of the EU’s larger goal of reducing e-waste.
According to iFixit, it is expected that a repair score similar to what they have been assigning to gadgets for the past fifteen years, could be introduced by the EU commission. France will be the first country to adopt repairability ratings starting in January. On the other hand, Austria is planning to reduce taxes on repair services and provide subsidies for consumer repairs. It is interesting to note that an EU survey suggested 77% of citizens are in favor of repairing their devices rather than replace them while 79% believe that manufacturers should be legally obliged to provide a repair of digital devices or the replacement of their individual parts.
“By adopting this report, the European Parliament sent a clear message: harmonized mandatory labeling indicating durability and tackling premature obsolescence at EU level are the way forward,” said Rapporteur David Cormand, MEP from France.
What happens next? As The Verge notes, the EU Commission will now set out to frame the actual rules that would govern the labeling of products in the areas of estimated lifetime and reparability. The goal set for seeing these rules take form is 2021, so we are likely on the brink of a revolution of how electronics are perceived as against their current disposable nature.
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