In order to reduce waste, the EU who was mainly concentrated on energy and water efficiency standards, until a few months ago, just ratified the "Right to repair" legislation which will require manufacturers to review their design standards. Starting in 2021, theses regulations will apply to electric items including televisions, lighting, fridges, washing machines and dishwashers across the European Union.
The legislation has been prompted since 2012 in Massachusetts (USA) within the automative industry and then expanded across Europe from consumers infuriated by machines that break down when they are just out of warranty. Owners are usually unable to repair the machines themselves - or find anyone else to do it at a decent price - so are forced to buy a replacement. Some campaigners say the European legislation should allow individual consumers to buy spares and mend their own machines. But manufacturers state this would raise questions about risk and liability. Others like Stephane Arditi of the European Environment Bureau said: “When repair activities stay in the hands of a few firms, we’re missing an opportunity to make it more affordable and readily available. Small independent repairers can make a great contribution to the economy and our society. We need to help them do their job.” Firms like Apple , which has consistently lobbied against right to repair legislation in the US and even taken legal actions against unauthorised repair companies, this August announced that it is rolling out an independent repair programin the States.
Not included in the EU right to repair rules are devices such as smart phones and laptops which often have irreplaceable batteries and are limited by the software updates they were not made to handle.
The new European standards will ensure that appliances have a longer life and they will have to supply spare parts for machines for up to 10 years. The legislation also insists on the design made to make appliances more energy efficient. For example, star ratings for the energy efficiency of appliances will be ratcheted up. Current regulations are seen to be outdated, with more than 55% of washing machines sold in the EU ranked A+++ on the label.
The move could directly save €20bn on energy bills per year in Europe from 2030 onwards - equivalent to 5% of EU electricity consumption.
Around 20 US states including California, home of Silicon Valley, are also currently considering similar legislation. France's Senate also voted a law to prevent waste along with a repairability indicator which will specify if the product is easily repairable or not.
It is difficult to legislate on waste and manufacturing on a global scale but the EU, European countries on a national level, the UK and the United States all seem to be thinking in the same direction aiming to prevent greenhouse gases and waste.