New EU "Right to Repair Law" will Help Consumers and Reduce Waste

The right to repair law will force manufacturers to make products last longer and let consumers repair them easily once they break.

Jan 26, 2019
Special Collections: REDUCE REUSE RECYCLE

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Washing machines or refrigerators that last for twenty years aren't just for reminiscing about the good old days. Once, appliances were made to last and repair parts were always available. They could be again.

A new eco-design package of proposed regulations that includes waste reduction will be voted on by the EU later this year. These measures will push manufacturers to make their appliances and electronics more dependable and repairable.

This proposal follows a2017 resolution from the EU parliament, which encouraged the European Commission, member states, and manufacturers to improve the durability, quality, and repairability of products. It was resolved that "The EU Commission, member states and producers should take measures to ensure consumers can enjoy durable, high-quality products that can be repaired and upgraded."

The new measures will, for the first time, require manufacturers of washing machines and dishwashers sold in the EU to provide spare parts and access to repair manuals for seven years. At first, the measures will be limited to these white items but could be expanded in the future.

The proposed regulation also calls for a voluntary European label that covers the products’ durability, eco-design features, and upgradeability and an EU-wide definition of planned obsolescence for goods and software to be introduced.

Planned obsolescence means that products are purposely built to last only a few years, original replacement parts are unavailable, or products are glued shut so that they cannot be repaired without professional tools. Nothing is more frustrating than having to replace expensive appliances or electronics on a continual basis when you could theoretically just repair them.

In the US, the Right to Repair movement has been growing in response to this manufacturing practice but has not made too many inroads in the EU yet. The movement has led to the popularity of repair cafes and communal repair events.

In a 2014survey, 77 percent of EU citizens said they would rather repair their appliances and electronics than to purchase a new one but had to throw them away because of the cost or unavailability of repair options. These new regulations are welcomed by consumers in the EU and hopefully, these standards will be enacted by manufacturers worldwide.

In the US, California became the 18th state to propose a right to repair law in March 2018 to give consumers more options for getting their electronic devices and appliances repaired. This law will give consumers the option of choosing to have their products repaired by a repair shop or service provider of their choice.

The proposed legislation, if passed in the EU and the US, will be a wake-up call for manufacturers to clean up their act. With fewer products going to landfills, legislation that reduces waste is good for the environment and consumers alike!

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.

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