Consumers To Have ‘Right To Repair’ For Goods In Move To End Throwaway Culture

Appliances, electronics and other consumer goods are set to have a longer life under new ‘right to repair’ regulations.

The move is part of an effort to stop manufacturers making items that break or wear out easily and are too difficult to get fixed so that consumers buy more replacements instead.

Research for the European Commission found the public loses almost €12 billion a year in buying replacements for goods that could have been repaired.

Picture Getty Images

The needless use of materials and energy, and knock-on effect in terms of carbon emissions and waste volumes, is immense too.

MEPs voted by an overwhelming majority on Tuesday to bring in regulations obliging manufacturers to repair their products, to do so within a reasonable period of time and to promote the service to consumers.

The ‘Directive on Common Rules promoting the repair of goods’ would apply immediately to large appliances such as washing machines but would quickly extend to smartphones and similar items and then widen to cover a products such as bicycles.

It would apply both within and beyond any statutory protection period that applies to goods so even when a guarantee runs out, a repair option would have to be available.

Green MEP Ciaran Cuffe welcomed the strong vote in favour of the directive.

“Consumers want to be able to repair their products but they are discouraged by price and the availability of service,” he said.

“Under this new law, producers will no longer be able to impede repair.

“There will be greater access to spare parts, including for independent repairers, at reasonable prices, and producers will no longer be able to refuse to repair a device that has previously been repaired by someone else.”

Manufactures would be allowed charge for repair and exceptions to the obligation would apply where repair would be more expensive than replacement, so it is not clear yet how the rules would be enforced.

The final details of directive have still to be agreed during ‘trilogue’ talks between the European parliament, council and commission.

Mr Cuffe said, however, it was a very significant move.

“This law is about ending throwaway culture and moving to a circular economy,” he said.

“Poor quality goods that break easily and can’t be repaired have been flooding the market in recent years, and it’s not good enough.”

Trilogue negotiations are expected to begin in the coming weeks and be completed within the first half of 2024.

(Source – Irish Independent – Environment – Caroline O Doherty – 21/11/2023)

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