Video by @John Rowley / Coolproducts
In the past few months, there’s been quite a lot of developments regarding repair at European level. From the commitment to implementing Right to Repair in the Commission’s Circular Economy Action Plan to the launch of the ecodesign preparatory study for smartphones and tablets, Brussels is finally taking an interest in the environment and economic benefits linked to a repair economy.
While we’ve been pushing for these measures and ensuring that a universal Right to Repair actually becomes reality at EU level, we don’t want to give the impression that Brussels is where it’s all happening – quite the opposite!
Repairable products and waste prevention is not only a matter of European policies
National governments and local policies are essential to promote repair and ensure it remains a sustainable and viable activity within communities. Across Europe, some initiatives have already pushed for repair at national and local level.
In Sweden for instance, people can get tax breaks for appliance repairs done by technicians in their home. They can claim back from income tax half the labour cost of appliance repair, up to 25,000 SEK (2,400 EUR) .
Similarly in Austria, the residents of Graz can apply for small grants covering 50% of the labour costs of repair. This measure has been in place since 2016 and works for a maximum support of 100 EUR per household and year.
Meanwhile in France, as of January 2021, shoppers will have access, in store and online, to a repairability scoring for 5 initial product categories (laptops, lawnmowers, smartphones, washing machines and televisions), allowing them to compare how easy repairing a product is. Criteria will include availability of spare parts and repair manuals, ease of disassembly and – importantly – the price of key spare parts. It will be mandatory for manufacturers to publish the detail of their scoring, making it easier for consumers and NGOs to check the reliability of the information and whether products are actually repairable.
From informed consumers we move to longer warranty. In Norway most consumer electronic products come with a 5-year warranty which is well beyond the minimum 2-year guarantee in the EU. People can choose to have the product repaired rather than replaced, contributing to extending their life.
What needs to happen next?
While constant scrutiny and advocacy work is needed at European level, we’re aware so much is happening throughout Europe. In the UK, plans are under way to require manufacturers of connected products to state the minimum duration of software support – a crucial concern as more and more devices can be rendered obsolete without software or security updates. In Italy, a proposed ‘planned obsolescence law’ would ensure spare parts are available for products, and that they are reasonably priced.
And we would love to help!
We know there’s plenty more happening across Europe, and we’d like to network all groups pushing for Right to Repair. Please share with us what’s happening in your country, and join our campaign. Are you aware of local proposed legislation or initiative to promote repair? Are you working on a project related to repair? If so, what are the challenges you are experiencing? How can we help you? Leave a comment or email us!