Last March, the European Commission proposed legislation to protect the right of European consumers to repair defective or non-working products.
As part of the European Green Deal, the Commission has pursued a comprehensive package of green transition initiatives, including product eco-design and consumer empowerment.
The purpose of all these initiatives is to reduce waste and utilize resources as efficiently as possible in order to reach climate neutrality by 2050 and transform the EU into a prosperous, safe and environmentally responsible society.
Providing the right to repair can reduce waste
In the EU, 35 million tonnes of waste are generated each year. 261 tonnes of CO2 are released into the atmosphere, and 30 tonnes of resources are wasted as defective products end up in landfills rather than being repaired.
Additionally, it is estimated that consumers spend €12 billion annually on replacing goods rather than repairing them.
Introducing a “right to repair” will reduce waste, facilitate savings for citizens, and contribute to a more circular economy.
The New York State Senate took a step in the same direction last year by passing the Digital Fair Repair Act. Under this bill, OEMs must make information, parts, diagnostic and repair tools available to third-party owners and repairers in order to fix products, leading to significant economic benefits for consumers and environmental benefits for the environment.
The European Commission is now proposing a “right to repair” for European consumers, further promoting the eco-friendly philosophy of repair over replacement.
Manufacturers will be required to provide warranty and non-warranty repairs
Under this legislative proposal, manufacturers are required to repair products after purchase, regardless of whether they fall within or outside the two-year legal guarantee stipulated in EU legislation.
A manufacturer will also be required to inform consumers that the device will be repaired free of charge if the repair is less expensive than replacing the device.
Consumers will also have the opportunity to contact repair shops and refurbished product sellers in their area through an online repair platform, which will increase the visibility of repair shops and provide consumers with advantageous solutions.
The consumer will also have the option of requesting a European repair information form from the repairer, which will provide more transparency as to the conditions and price of the repair and allow consumers to compare different repair options and choose the one that is most convenient.
Last but not least, a European quality standard for repair services will also be introduced, making it easier for consumers to locate qualified repair professionals.
A further step towards achieving a circular economy
«We want to help consumers to repair their products, if they wish to do so. We give them tools to make better informed and comparable choice. We want to incentivise producers, so they make repair possible, rather than engage in a never-ending race of buying new products that we, consumers, don’t need. This is not sustainable and does not leave consumers with choice. Our proposal will help people to shape their consumption patterns the way they want to, rather than in a way they are forced to – so that we raise the rate of repair and reuse of goods and bring significant savings» said Věra Jourová, Vice-President for Values and Transparency at the European Commission.
When a product becomes defective, consumers do not repair it but instead discard it prematurely, even though it could be repaired and used for a much longer period. Consumers are unable to repair products themselves because of the difficulty in doing so, the high costs, and the lack of repair services available to them.
As part of the proposal, the European Commission introduces a new consumer right to make it easier and more cost-effective to opt for repair instead of replacement for goods that no longer function or are no longer under warranty.
As a result, there will be less waste, and less energy wasted, since repairing requires less energy than manufacturing something new. In addition, there will be fewer emissions of pollutants.
In addition to motivating manufacturers and companies to develop environmentally responsible solutions, the right to repair will enhance the repair industry, opening the door to a model of consumption that is both economically and environmentally sustainable.
By adopting this initiative, the EU will be able to eliminate planned obsolescence and premature replacement of goods, resulting in the primary choice of consumers for repair, and making it easier for products to circulate on the market for as long as possible before they expire.