(Photo by Grant Smith/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images)


It’s not rubbish: EU cleans up its act


Consumers will be given greater rights to have goods such as washing machines and smartphones repaired under new rules agreed by the European Union

The move is aimed at reducing waste from defective or broken products simply being dumped and then replaced with new.

Along with the environmental benefits, the EU hopes the new directive, proposed last year and provisionally agreed late on February 1, will also create jobs and reduce the bloc’s dependency on foreign raw materials.

“With the agreement reached today, Europe makes a clear choice for repair instead of disposal,” said Alexia Bertrand, Belgian State Secretary for the Budget and Consumer Protection.

“By Facilitating the repair of defective goods, we not only give a new life to our products, but also create good quality jobs, reduce our waste, limit our dependency on foreign raw materials and protect our environment,” she added.

Consumers will be able to choose between repair or replacement of defective products within a two-year legal guarantee period.

Companies will have to repair a product – for free – within that period if cheaper than a replacement and continue to offer “affordable” repairs for five to 10 years after a product’s sale, even if it is outside of the guarantee.

Manufacturers and distributors will also have to inform consumers of their right to have products repaired as well as offer spare parts to independent repairers at “reasonable” prices.

The right to repair directive will apply to a range of products including mobile phones and tablets, washing machines, dishwashers, fridges, electronic displays, vacuum cleaners, data storage products and welding equipment. E-bike batteries are also due to be added, according to the European Council and the European Parliament.

The liability period will also be extended by 12 months for repaired goods, under the accord agreed by representatives of the Parliament and EU governments late on February 1.

EU countries will have to “promote” repairs, such as with consumer vouchers, reduced sales tax, information campaigns or repair courses.

In addition, a new online platform will allow consumers to find repair shops, sellers of refurbished goods or buyers of defective products, under the new directive.

Other such regulations set out goals that EU countries must achieve through their own domestic laws.

Once the right to repair directive enters force, likely to be this year, EU members will have 24 months to comply.