One of the largest markets in the world will soon be demanding manufactures to let consumers repair what their products. You may have bought a product like a cellphone that gets minor damage which you can’t repair yourself, so you need to send it back to the manufacturers for an expensive or worse: buy a new one. The amount of waste produced by negligent manufactures because their products cannot be repaired is astronomical. This has led Europe to begin the process of passing legislation around the consumer’s right to repair what they own.
Some political leaders agree. In November, the EU Parliament called on the European Commission to make routine repair of everyday products easier, systematic and cost-efficient. It said that warranties should be extended, and that replacement parts should be improved and made more accessible, as should information enabling general repair and maintenance.
The EU’s existing eco-design regulations could be an instrument to reach these goals. These mandates were established years ago to improve the energy efficiency of products sold in the EU. But in March, the first eco-design regulation that will define standards for repair and useful life will come into force. Manufacturers of washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators and monitors will have to ensure that components are replaceable with common tools. Instruction manuals must be accessible to specialist companies. And producers must supply spare parts within 15 days.