A branch of the European Union is calling on stakeholders to improve the repairability of electronics and ferret out devices designed to have short lifespans.
The European Parliament on July 4 voted to approve a resolution calling on the European Commission, member countries and producers to take steps to improve repairability.
“We must reinstate the reparability of all products put on the market,” Pascal Durand, a member of Parliament from France, stated in a press release. “We have to make sure that batteries are no longer glued into a product, but are screwed in so that we do not have to throw away a phone when the battery breaks down. We need to make sure that consumers are aware of how long the products last and how they can be repaired.”
The resolution doesn’t place any requirements into law. But it does signal the desire of the legislative body, which is directly elected by voters in each member country, to address the issue through future laws and voluntary programs. The parliament voted 662 to 32 to approve the resolution.
The document seeks to have products built to last longer and made easier to repair. It suggests discouraging manufacturers from taking steps to prevent independent repair shops from making fixes, and it calls for spare parts to be made available.
Among its long list of suggestions and requests, the document asks the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, to propose a EU-wide definition of planned obsolescence and to explore a system to test products for built-in obsolescence. It also calls for “better legal protection for ‘whistleblowers’ and appropriate dissuasive measures for producers.” It addresses obsolescence for both hardware and software.
Additionally, it calls on the commission to consider a voluntary labeling system informing consumers about a product’s durability, eco-design features, upgradeability and repairability.
The parliament’s message is in line with many of the aims of the right-to-repair movement in the U.S., where repair advocates are urging states to pass laws ensuring consumers and independent repair shops have access to the parts, tools and information necessary to repair devices. Motherboard, a publication of Vice.com, recently compared and contrasted the resolution with the desires of right-to-repair advocates in the U.S.
The upcoming E-Scrap conference will include a session focused on the right-to-repair movement and other electronics repairability issues. The conference will be held Sept. 18-20 in Orlando, Fla.
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