Right to repair

Right to repair: this is how Brussels wants to force manufacturers to fix household appliances

In the European Union, 35 million tons of rubbish are generated every year and 261 tons of CO₂ are emitted due to the devices that are thrown away. Many of the products that are thrown away, however, are still “viable” and could be repaired with some ease and their useful life extended. This means a cost of 12,000 million per year for consumers.

To combat this, the European Commission proposes to launch a legislative initiative to guarantee the “right to repair” of consumers, with the aim of avoiding the waste of resources, saving money for citizens, and moving towards an economic system circular

Based on the idea that there are many goods that could be repaired and are replaced unnecessarily by new ones, the EU Justice Commissioner, Didier Reynders, presented this Wednesday the proposal “Right to Repair” (right to repair), in the framework of the European Green Deal.

“Consumers will get the tools they need to choose repair and make a positive contribution to the circular economy. It also sends an important message to businesses that sustainable business models and investments in repairs are profitable.”

Inform consumers of the obligation to repair

The European Commission, which is 2019 already approved regulations focused on the repairability and durability of household appliances, now goes a step further and wants to force manufacturers to inform consumers that they are obliged to repair an appliance that is under warranty free of charge.

In addition, manufacturers will have to fix a device as long as it is not more expensive than buying a new one, Reynders insisted.

“We will require sellers to repair when fixing is cheaper or costs the same as replacing.”

“No one can refuse to repair your washing machine except if it is technically impossible,” said the Commissioner of Justice, who added that manufacturers will have to repair an appliance even if it has been damaged by the consumer. although then they will be able to claim a price for the work.

Prioritize repair, also out of warranty

Beyond the warranty, Brussels wants repairs to be prioritized whenever possible. Consumers will have the right to demand the repair of a product if it is technically repairable under Community law, such as washing machines or televisions.

Thus, users will be able to claim a repair and companies will have to inform the mandatory conditions to fix a device, which will extend for a period of between 5 and 10 years, depending on the product.

In this way, consumers will always have someone to turn to when they want to repair an appliance. In addition, the Commission hopes that it will encourage manufacturers to develop more “sustainable” business models.

This will not only reduce costs but also reduce waste and the use of materials for new productions, in line with the European Green Deal.

At the moment, these measures will not apply to devices such as mobile phones or tablets, but the community executive points out that they will be incorporated when the eco-design regulations are approved, currently in the negotiation phase.

Read also: The College of Engineers is committed to interconnecting river basins, including the Ebro, to manage periods of drought

An online platform and redressal forms

The European Commission wants to create an online platform that brings consumers and repair professionals into contact. This platform will allow searches by location and quality standards, which will help find attractive offers and increase the visibility of repair shops.

On the other hand, the consumer will have the right to claim a repair form from the manufacturer, which indicates the conditions and the price of fixing a product, as well as a comparison of offers.

Now, the proposal of the European Commission will have to be negotiated with the member states and the European Parliament. In November 2020, the European Parliament already approved a resolution in favor of the “right to repair” to promote sustainable consumption options and the culture of reuse.

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