Helena Lyng Blak
4 weeks ago

EU Gives “Right to Repair” Legislation the Green Light

New EU legislation takes a step towards sustainability, reshaping how products are made and maintained.
krutar / Shutterstock.com
krutar / Shutterstock.com

Today, April 23, 2024, the European Union gave their final approval for the adoption of a new set of rules concerning the ‘right to repair’ for European consumers. 

Under these new rules manufacturers are required to repair products at a reasonable price and within a reasonable timeframe after the expiration of the legal guarantee period. Consumers will have access to necessary spare parts, tools, and repair information. To encourage consumers to choose repair options, incentives such as repair vouchers and funds will be provided. Additionally, online platforms will help consumers locate local repair services and stores that sell refurbished goods.

The ‘right to repair’ will complement other sustainable efforts by the EU such as its ‘Ecodesign Regulation’ whose final vote of approval was also scheduled for Tuesday, but as of 5 PM local time is still classified as “close to adoption”.

The Ecodesign Regulation, originally submitted by the EU Commission in 2022, is a part of the ‘European Green Deal’ intended to improve sustainability in EU member states. 

What is Ecodesign?

But, you might ask, what exactly is ‘ecodesign’?

As defined by the European Parliament, ecodesign refers to “integration of environmental sustainability considerations into the characteristics of a product, and into processes throughout its value chain”. 

What this means is that with ecodesign, one considers the sustainability of not just the production of the product itself, but also the environmental impact of each and every stage of the product’s life cycle: From extraction of raw materials used in the creation of the product to its ultimate end-of-life. Thereby, with ecodesign, manufacturers might especially focus on products’ durability, recyclability, and repairability in the development of said products.

Seven Key Elements

In proposing the new ecodesign rules, the Commission provided seven key elements. They are as follows: 

1) Minimum ecodesign requirements

Manufacturers will be required to comply with a set of minimum ecodesign requirements, varying for different groups of products, to be set out at a later date. The requirements could include measures to improve durability, reusability, possibility of maintenance and refurbishment, among others. One requirement will be that manufacturers must not limit the durability of products. 

2) Digital passports for products

A digital passport will be introduced for various products, providing details such as, but not limited to, potential harmful chemicals, traceability, and user manuals.

3) Transparency requirements

Transparency requirements will be introduced for manufacturers who discard unsold products. Down the line, the Commission may ban the destruction of unsold textiles, such as clothes, footwear, and electronics.

4) Online marketplaces can be ordered to remove products

Market surveillance authorities may order online marketplaces, such as Amazon, to remove products that do not comply with ecodesign requirements. 

5) Banning products that can circumvent tests

Products that can detect they are being tested and alter performances to pass tests may be banned. 

6) Requirements for public contracts

The Commission may establish ecodesign requirements for public contracts. 

7) Green incentives for consumers

Under the new rules, member states may establish incentives for consumers to make sustainable choices, especially to make said choices more affordable. This could be done through green taxation or eco-vouchers.

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