In a bid to make digitalisation sustainable, the German environmental ministry just relased its “Environmental Digital Agenda”.

What’s a key element to this? A Right to Repair for ICT products.

The German ministry is calling for a European right to repair, either “within the framework of the EU Ecodesign Directive or a repair directive for electrical and electronic equipment”.

The first of the agenda‘s five key measures consists of a longer life span for digital devices and mandatory warranties:

Devices like smartphones and tablets have to become more sustainable. By expanding the European manufacturer’s obligation to make statements about the guaranteed lifespan of electronic products, manufacturers should compete for the most durable product.

Products should also become more sustainable through binding regulations for updates, spare parts, as well as cross-manufacturer solutions for the exchange of batteries, displays and other hardware components. This could be regulated via the EU Ecodesign Directive.

The Federal Government should work towards this during their Council Presidency.

Other measures mentioned to make products last longer include:

Expanding the EU Ecodesign directive:

  • Application to new product groups (e.g. smartphones)
  • Criteria update for products already regulated through the directive (e.g. computers)
  • Establishment of minimum standards for resource efficiency
  • Information from manufacturers on longevity of hardware software systems
  • Speeding up existing regulatory processes due to accelerated technology and product cycles

Seeing the Ministry of environment commit to making smartphones and other ICT products more repairable is a great step towards using less resources.

Sustainable consumption:

  • Strenghten market surveillance (mandatory inspection for electronic marketplaces)
  • Ensure the visibility of the ecological footprint of products
  • Provision of environmentally relevant product information
  • Label for sustainable online trading

Seeing the Ministry of environment (lead by the social democrats SPD) commit to making smartphones and other ICT products more repairable is a great step towards using less resources. It remains unclear, however, how committed the whole German government is to this process. The CDU-lead ministry for economic affairs is in charge of the German work on the EU Ecodesign development process.

Additionally, the government will also need support from other member states in order to step up EU Ecodesign regulations. If it wants to succeed, the Federal Government will have to set priorities as part of the Council Presidency, which starts in July.

Text originally published on Runder Tisch Reparatur’s website.

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