"Right to Repair" law planned

"Right to Repair" law planned


The European Commission has proposed introducing new laws which will improve the "right to repair" of electronics devices. So many laptops, mobile phones and other devices are difficult to repair and are simply thrown away when a single module or component breaks. The premise of the new laws would be to tackle the disposable and "premature obsolescence" culture of electronics goods, and instead promote extending the lifespan and repairability.

This proposal (dubbed the Circular Economy Action Plan) aims to "make our economy fit for a green future, strengthen our competitiveness while protecting the environment and give new rights to consumers". Although the UK is leaving the EU, it is likely the electronics manufacturers will not lower standards for non-EU markets if they are forced to improve the right to repair, so we will still reap the benefits.

Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, said: “Many products break down too easily, cannot be reused, repaired or recycled, or are made for single use only. There is a huge potential to be exploited both for businesses and consumers. With today's plan we launch action to transform the way products are made and empower consumers to make sustainable choices for their own benefit and that of the environment.”

The full action plan can be read here: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/circular-economy/pdf/new_circular_economy_action_plan.pdf

Any lifespan extension for electronics goods is likely to be welcomed by consumers and reduce e-waste at the same time. Expect to see some resistance from companies like Apple, who are infamous for very tightly integrated products that are hard to repair.

On paper this seems like a win-win for consumers and the environment, however we are yet to see how tech giants respond to these proposals. It is quite likely they will argue that prices will be forced up and portability will suffer.

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Ian Cunningham
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