New ‘right-to-repair’ rules aim to cut carbon and reduce landfill waste

Written by

Tim Greenhalgh

Posted on

October 31, 2019

We may not need to chuck away so many of our appliances with new ‘right-to-repair’ rules coming into force soon.

Many of us will have had that helpless feeling when the washing machine or fridge breaks down and there’s no way to get it working again as spares are not available.

Now the EU is bringing in new standards and from 2021, manufacturers will need to make appliances longer-lasting as well as provide spare parts for up to 10 years.

The aim is to reduce carbon emissions produced in manufacturing and disposal, and also cut the number of appliances ending up in landfill.

Minimise waste

We have been focused on this at SaveMoneyCutCarbon for many years, working with partners like hansgrohe who share the determination and vision to minimise waste and carbon footprint.

hansgrohe have a richly deserved reputation for their premium taps and shower systems for bathrooms and kitchens. This brand is globally trusted in part because of a commitment to providing spare parts across the extensive range for 15 years after any product has been discontinued.

That means we can provide our customers with a comprehensive range of hansgrohe mixers, showers and spare parts – all available to buy online or over the phone.

Contrast that with a budget price tap, for example, that looks shiny and cool but wears out quickly, can’t be repaired and you have to replace it. ‘Buy cheap, buy twice’ is very true!

Breaking outside of warranty

The move by the EU is in response to growing discontent among consumers across Europe and North America when their appliances break down when just out of warranty. The rules apply to washing machines, dishwashers, fridges and lighting.

With the new standards, manufacturers will have to make spares like thermostats and door gaskets available to professional repairers. The rules insist that parts must be repairable using standard tools and without damaging the product.

The legislation should ensure that we will no longer find it impossible to have our appliances  repaired – and at a reasonable price.

For some campaigners, though, the new rules don’t go far enough as only professionals will be able to do the repair work. The argument against that is the challenge of keeping appliances fully functional and safe, with associated risks and liabilities.

Energy star ratings

British firms hoping to offer their appliances in European markets after Brexit will need to follow the new rules, which apply from April 2021.

At the same time, the EU will be raising the bar for energy star ratings as regulations are outdated, with more than half of washing machines sold in the EU ranked A+++ on the label.

It is hoped that the stricter rules will save €20 billion on energy bills a year in Europe from 2030 onwards, equivalent to 5% of EU electricity usage.

In the US, it is reported that about 20 states are working on ‘right-to-repair’ legislation.

Chloe Fayole of environmental group Ecos said:

“From the US to Europe, people are demanding their right to repair things they own because they’re tired of products that are designed to break prematurely.”

Libby Peake from the UK Green alliance told BBC News:

“These new standards are a massive step in the right direction and could result in nearly 50 million tonnes of CO2 emissions savings.”

However, Stephane Arditi of the European Environment Bureau argued:

 “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.”

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