This week the European Parliament announced that it has approved (662 votes to 32) a new resolution which looks to improve the longevity and durability of electronic goods. This is a resolution which seems to be industry-wide and one which if implemented would apply to washing machines as much as smartphones. The resolution itself is not binding but instead looks to highlight a number of aspects which MEPs would like to see introduced - all with a view of better product sustainability, as well as increasing/creating more jobs.
The sum of the recommendations is that products should be ‘robust, easier to repair and generally of a good quality’ to begin with. Another recommendation is that member states should give incentives to companies to produce repairable products in the first place. While part of the ‘easier to repair’ aspect includes micro recommendations like batteries and LEDs not being “fixed into products” and instead, they should be easy to take out and replaced as and when needed. With spare parts made more accessible and priced accordingly. These last two points are designed to remedy a situation where ‘throw-away’ products are less likely to be thrown away. A number of devices do make use of glue instead of solder points or screws, which although lowers the cost at the consumer level, also decreases the likelihood of a device being repaired. In addition, the recommendations also stretch to include the actual repair process as well as the ease of device repairability in general. Some of the micro recommendations on this include a widening of the places in which a device can be repaired - for instance, greater third-party and/or independent repair location support. As well as warranties and guarantees being more in line with how long repairs take. An example being that if a device takes one month to be repaired, then the original guarantee should be further extended by the same time - ensuring the actual in-hand guarantee period remains the same irrespective of whether a device is repaired or not.
One of the other recommendations is the suggestion that Europe should make use of a ‘voluntary European label’ which is designed to highlight various aspects including the “product's durability, eco-design features, upgradeability in line with technical progress and reparability.” In many ways this will not be that different to the type of labels now found on food in Europe. As the label seemingly will look to provide a quick summary of what the consumer can expect in terms of how long the product should last, and if needed, how easy it will be to repair. Another benefit of such labels is that they will also essentially act as a comparison tool. With consumers able to self-determine which product offers better value for money for them. Although of course, there are no specific recommendations on pricing for any of the mentioned aspects, as while lots of the recommendations are designed to increase the life-cycle of a device, they are also aspects which would likely result in price increases, including during the initial purchase.