November 30, 2018
There’s an upcoming vote at the European level that can have global implications for the repairability and durability of our products.
Given how popular these measures are, and how they can help countries meet carbon targets, no one is talking about this enough.
Our products are getting harder and harder to fix and manufacturers increasingly curtail our right to repair the stuff we own.
In December and January, the EU member states may throw out 2+ years’ work on creating better product standards for longer-lasting products, specifically appliances and electronics. These products have really high environmental impacts in manufacture, so making them last longer is better for personal finances and the planet.
This represents a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to expand our right to repair, and do so in a way designed to save the planet. However corporate lobbying or bureaucratic manoeuvring may succeed in watering down the measures. And we need member states to support them.
Key dates and the value of a precedent
EU members will vote at the Council of the European Union on measures affecting the repairability of various domestic appliances:
- 10 Dec (fridges)
- 8 Jan (dishwashers)
- 10 Jan (washing machines)
These measures could set a crucial precedent which could in the future be extended to electronic devices, such as laptops or smartphones. And chances are that Europe’s move could contribute to the adoption of similar regulation elsewhere in the world.
The main countries that have shown opposition to these measures during the last year are Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. All have responded to citizen pressure, from petitions approaching 200,000 signatures total (links below), and there is a real chance continued pressure will impact the outcome of this vote. (This is also a special opportunity for the United Kingdom, as it will likely be the last chance it has to contribute to ecodesign regulation before leaving the EU.)
Push for the original measures – not the watered down version
We need to pressure member states to push for the original drafts of these measures, and NOT ACCEPT significant changes undermining their positive impacts for people and planet.
European Environmental Bureau summarises these changes:
Provisions for a better design that facilitates repair through the non-destructive disassembly of key components have been replaced with provisions targeting recycling through the ease of dismantling at end of life only. This will make it easier to destroy and recycle a machine, not fix it.
The provisions granting access to repair and maintenance information to independent repairers have now been restricted to authorised repairers only. This will restrict the access of repair cafés or independent repair shops to the information, limiting the scope and availability of repair services.
Members of the Open Repair Alliance are mobilising in their countries, and potentially in Brussels closer to the votes.
Please watch this space for the launch of a wider, long-lasting campaign on the Right to Repair in Europe. Sign up for updates
French translation by Repair Together
German translation by Anstiftung
Coolproducts: The Ecodesign toolbox for repair
[Photo by Janaya Dasiuk on Unsplash]