/ Home & Energy, Sustainability

Our commitment to sustainability

Here we explain how we’ll be helping consumers make sustainable choices, and how we’re challenging ourselves to be a more sustainable organisation.

22/04/2021: Manufacturers and supermarkets must do more to help consumers join refillable revolution

Today we’re urging manufacturers and supermarkets to do more to make refillable products widely available and clearly labelled to help shoppers save money and the environment.

Our research shows there is demand and savings to be had for consumers who switch to refills. However, many shoppers have trouble finding them on supermarket shelves and a lack of clear labelling means consumers may be unaware that a refillable option is available.

We want brands and supermarkets to make refillable products more widely available to customers. Recycling labels should also be provided on all grocery products so that people know how they can responsibly dispose of the items they use.

Are you more likely to buy a product in a plastic bottle if you know a refill is available?
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10/11/2020: Our commitment to sustainability

We know that consumers want to spend their money responsibly. They want to opt for goods and services that prioritise sustainability, and that make less of an impact on our planet. But policymakers and businesses haven’t always made this easy.

As the UK’s consumer champion, we want to change that. We’ve made a commitment to helping consumers make more sustainable choices and to making our organisation more sustainable.

To do this, we’re focusing on three key areas:

1) Being a credible source

We’ll share expertise with international consumer organisations, and invest in editorial and online content focused on sustainability, including an ‘eco column’ in Which? magazine.

2) Helping consumers, businesses and policymakers

We’ll highlight sustainability in our reviews and acknowledge the most eco-friendly products. We’ll also work with policymakers and businesses to prioritise sustainability, focusing on the key areas we’ve identified in energy, transport, products and services, food and plastic.

3) Reducing our own impact

Our plans include finding more ways to offset our carbon emissions and producing less waste.

We’ll be discussing more about our commitments later this week. Watch this space.

25/03/2019: Product sustainability

Interest in ethical and environmental issues has never been greater. Our reviews need to change. Here’s why we can’t ignore product sustainability.

Which? has been testing products for more than 60 years. With our rigorous reviews we’ve helped generations of consumers make the right choices – no doubt you have a few cherished Best Buys around your house.

As head of product testing, I’m very proud of this wonderful heritage. But we’re faced with a difficult and uncomfortable question.

Are our reviews fit for our times, for our readers today and the consumers who will use Which? tomorrow? The truth can be as uncomfortable as the question.

Sustainability is an increasingly important factor in buying decisions, and we need to respond to this change. In our test labs we’ve developed new packaging tests and piloted repairability assessments, and we’re finding new ways to analyse our reliability data.

Removing and replacing batteries

For example, in cordless vacs tests, we’re rating how easy it is to remove and replace the battery, the availability of spares and the ease of maintenance.

For washing machines and tumble dryers, we’re developing a basic repairability assessment. Among other things, it asks whether you can get the back off a machine – is it ‘screw or glue’?

We’ve also started to record the amount and recyclability of packaging – both in everyday and big-ticket items.

Environmental and corporate social responsibility

There are also calls to assess the practices of the companies behind the products, following the shift in consumerism towards brand values.

Is this trend relevant for us? In a 2018 survey, we asked 1,400 of you whether we should include brand environmental and corporate social responsibility credentials in our reviews. Two thirds of you agreed.

Of course, this doesn’t mean we stop testing. We know the value of our unique Best Buy verdicts. But if we can offer more, from better insights into durability and longevity, to advise on the wider sustainability practices of the brands behind them, that’s an ambition we think is worth striving for.

Should we be doing more? That’s not a question I ask myself. It’s a question I ask the Which? reader of tomorrow – my smart and courageous 13-year-old daughter, with her whole life ahead of her. Her answer? ‘What are you waiting for, dad?’

This contribution to Which? Conversation first appeared in the April 2019 edition of Which? Magazine (page 15: ‘Inside View’).

Richard Lofthouse says:
12 November 2020

This is a brilliant string so far – I recommend the report here: https://ukfires.org/absolute-zero/
This is top academics in the UK succinctly reporting to the UK government on what the legally enshrined Net Zero climate emissions law will look like for our ‘life styles’ and for industry. It is a new report only just out.
It addresses most of the issues raised in this string. The biggest awkward truth is the UK owning the emissions from stuff it imports and flights and other shipping that take place ‘off shore.’ We currently don’t count those emissions which is one big reason why the likes of China don’t take kindly to our politicians bragging about how we’ve taken a lead on being good environmentalists. We have not.
WHICH? will need to greatly raise its game to get close to any of these issues. Rather than going in with the shiny white lab coats they are going to have to decide what life cycle analysis they will go with to avoid perverse outcomes. Large battery electric vehicles are a case in point. They are not automatically ‘green’ it boils down to what environmental impact category you are addressing, the intended use of the vehicle. The green solution is not to own a car but to take the train or an e-bike in the city. Which? is instead going to plough on in and tell us whether they prefer a Tesla to a E-Tron. Well let me tell you neither vehicle is what Net Zero looks like because the UK is not on course to produce enough renewable electricity for us all to be driving around in those types of vehicles. And then factor in a huge material footprint of all those batteries. How will WHICH? address this? They have a poor track record.

About time then, for Which? to apply this principle to its very own Car Reviews, to help consumers understand and make more informed and sustainable vehicle choices.

It has long distressed me to see that the Which? car review section is mostly run by wanna-be Top Gear presenters, testing a selection of cars more likely to satisfy Jeremy Clarkson than the average Which? subscriber. I doubt many of us have £40,000 or more to spend on a new car, let alone the ongoing fuel, punitive road tax and servicing costs. And as responsible citizens, those that could afford it probably don’t feel the need to show off such levels of ostentation and profligacy, unless of course we are persuaded to choose the “best” car that money can buy.

The Which? intro even has the cheek to gaslight environmentally-aware readers with the fantasy that “Only cars that are … economical … can become a Which? Best Buy.”

So, let me see then. It’s OK to buy one of the top Which? Best Buys – a bevy of Lexus, Porsche, Mercedes Benz or maybe a BMW if I want to reduce my impact on the environment. According to Which? ratings, as well as choosing one of the best cars, I am also choosing one of the most economical. That must be more eco-friendly than maybe the VW Golf or a similar medium family car I was considering, since that only appears half way down page 2 of the Best Buy results.

There’s not even a filter I can use to show results with a minimum MPG or a certain CO2 emission. So time for a re-think, giving sustainability and eco-friendliness a bigger weighting than performance, handling and whatever else the motor industry has brainwashed us into believing are the most important attributes for a motor car over the last 120 years.

Well said Em. It would be interesting to see an assessment of the environmental impact of manufacture, use and disposal of cars. I have no problem with people paying for expensive cars or keeping people in a job fixing them (a recent Which? report suggested that most expensive cars are not terribly reliable) but it would be good if we all tried to reduce damage to our environment.

Like Em, I became exasperated with the motorhead attitudes coming through the car reports and articles so I stopped reading them. I hope there is a change of direction at the roundabout we are now approaching.

As the months tick down to the end of fossil-fuelled motoring, the number of oversized guzzlers on our road seems to be increasing. It’s about time people got real and recognised that in a few years time we will all have to drive something much smaller, lighter and easier on the juice. And replacing fossil fuel duty with other forms of tax on the use of vehicles is going to hit hard as well.

I suspect that part of the reason that Which? reports on cars that are uneconomical and probably use more resources to build is that their subscribers are interested in them. I looked at the annual Car Guide hoping for detailed coverage of electric vehicles and home charging options but was disappointed.

The annual Which? survey on cars is by miles ahead of the average Connect surveys. Although it collects information about the problems we encounter with our cars, readers do not get to know how much it costs to resolve problems, which will affect the cost of ownership and presumably environmental costs if parts have to be scrapped and replaced.

The days of universal car ownership must be numbered, particularly for people living in cities. There will not be enough electric energy to power them if our use of natural gas for heating and cooking is abolished.

But simply demanding we use public transport requires a radical change in its provision, frequency and cost. It has to be tailored to our needs but also to our pockets. Travelling intercity by rail is a clear win environmentally, but a typical journey currently costs at least twice as much as a car journey (if, as many will, you look at the fuel cost) and if this is a group outing – a family or work colleagues -on monetary grounds it becomes maybe 4 to 8 times the cost.

Should we be encouraged to travel less? I doubt many would be happy with that for leisure but we could make a huge change to the environment if we discouraged commuting, certainly over any distance. But again, this needs a radical change in working and business location – with great benefits in other ways though, potentially spreading work over far more of the UK and losing our city-centric obsession.

Trouble is, I see no way we can organise this with the kind of UK management that we have, of whatever political persuasion. Logical long term thinking and policy making seems outside their capabilities.

Maybe we simply ban all private cars in cities and larger towns to get the ball rolling.

It’s a gloomy day, so a gloomy outlook. Natural selection will, as always, find a way when we are forced into change.

The argument that more expensive cars cause more damage to the environment could do with explaining as a generalisation.

An area of environmental damage is in house building. Consider how many resources in materials and energy will be involved. But the smaller the dwelling the less resources required. Should we therefore, on environmental grounds, require single occupants in properties with three or more bedrooms to vacate them and allow a family to become the occupants, moving to a smaller home? It would take a great deal of pressure off the housing requirement.

Last week in Norwich a major redevelopment scheme near the city centre which included 1,250 housing units was refused planning permission by the Secretary of State for Housing etc after the city council’s decision to grant approval had been called-in.

One of the reasons behind the refusal was the unsatisfactory nature of the housing provision: it was predominantly in the form of small one- and two-bedroom flats with single aspects. It had been considered that building 1,200 tiny flats ticked the box marked “build more housing units”. The obsession with the number of units over the housing capacity provided is unhelpful. To my mind building 400 three-bedroom homes is preferable to building 1200 one-bedroom homes – apart from anything else it saves 800 kitchens, 800 bathrooms, and 800 front doors. I accept that it would provide accommodation for 800 fewer ‘households’, but the Norwich housing market is over-supplied with unlet small flats since so many empty office buildings have been converted into cellular residential blocks and several student housing schemes and other speculative buy-to-let developments have been completed in the last few years or are still under construction.

I believe the key to rationalising housing provision and balancing need and capacity is to make sure the market is open and fluid enough to cater for all types of demand. I see no point in trying to control theoretical under-occupation by rigid controls. I don’t think there is any good reason why people whose families have grown up and moved away, or where death or separation have left a sole occupier, should be forced to downsize if they can afford to live in and maintain a larger property that they have bought and worked hard to maintain; the council tax incorporates financial penalties on the occupation of bigger properties as it is. Over time, people upsize and release smaller properties onto the market and eventually downsize and release larger properties. The mechanism is not fluid enough because prices are too high at every level of the pyramid, but that is generally a consequence of normal supply and demand. That can really only be moderated by an increase in supply coupled with better value and a consistent approach to the affordable homes ratio.

[Re: John’s post about housing development in Norwich]

That’s interesting. It seems obvious that it is important to pay attention to what is wanted as well as what might look good to planners. A small flat might be fine for students who are living away from their parental home.

Malcolm wrote: “Should we therefore, on environmental grounds, require single occupants in properties with three or more bedrooms to vacate them and allow a family to become the occupants, moving to a smaller home?” I wonder if Malcolm would be happy to downsize. Should it also be a requirement in parts of the country where there is plenty of housing available?

No, I would not be happy to move from my present home. Nor would I advocate forced downsizing. What I was pointing out was that if people are intent on reducing what they consider damages the environment there are many measures committed individuals can take, cars and houses included.

I have lived in the home we developed for over 40 years and like it, so I’m staying. I’ve just ordered some peonies, phlox and hellebores and most of next year’s seeds have arrived. I drive quite a lot fewer miles than I did, in my quite nice car that I do not propose replacing, so in consequence pollution is reduced. And I have just renewed my bus pass.

I thought as much, but you posed the question about whether, on environmental grounds, we should require single occupants in properties with three or more bedrooms to make way for those with families. I doubt that many people will want to downsize.

And perhaps those who own several cars, especially older and hence more polluting, should be required to own only one? One has to ask if multiple car ownership in an age of increasing concern with environmental health can ever be justified.

I think the common sense of downsizing is a sufficient motive in itself in appropriate situations and it will depend on individual circumstances and preferences.

There are several reasons to downsize later in life but it shouldn’t be left too late as it gets harder as the years pass. There are also good reasons not to move, and many people have little choice over whether or not they can move.

We tend to look at this from the point of view of people whose property is too big, has poor accessibility externally or internally, is difficult to maintain, or is not in a convenient location. In practice, most people probably live in an adequate property, in a satisfactory location, and convenient for their needs and income, so they have no need to change upwards or downwards in size. They might better expend their energies in making their existing property simpler to occupy and look after through some newer appliances, less furniture and contents, some alterations inside and out for lower maintenance, and a general refresh.

Moving home is a troublesome and costly process. In environmental terms it is also wasteful unless there are personal health and safety benefits.

We can only drive one at a time.
So should all older and more polluting cars be withdrawn and scrapped? Might be an option to propose for those who can afford a new electric or hybrid, but many cannot.

I presume that scrappage schemes will provide an incentive for owners of older cars to trade them in. What is needed is a scheme that allows an owner to trade in their polluting old car for a secondhand cleaner car, which would help those who cannot afford a new car or do not want to buy a new car that will lose thousands of pounds in value the first time it is driven.

One of the neighbours has two cars, one is kept in the garage and the other is parked in a ‘residents only’ parking area. To ensure a parking space on return, the one in the garage is driven out and parked in the empty space left by the other one parked in the ‘residents only’ area and returned to the garage until the next time they go out, when the whole process is repeated, much to the annoyance of the other residents.

If trading in your main car for a less polluting car, and the trade-in is scrapped, then that would help the environment. But if your main car is environmentally friendly and you have little used extra cars, for whatever reason, then there is little or no point.

Beryl – Some people might be tempted to park in front of their garage.

Only as a last resort John as the garages are in two rows of 5 directly opposite each other.

And not I nice thing to do 🙁

Would it help for residents’ parking bays to be reserved for named individuals (or their guests)?

Theoretically it would if there were sufficient parking spaces for each and everyone of the garage owners, but as the garages are mainly used for storage there is usually one car too many when everyone is home. Often during weekdays workmen (and sometimes guests) attending one of the houses will park wherever they can find an empty space.

I think we have veered away from the main topic which is about sustainability 🙁

I, among others, have been asking in Convos for products, particularly major electrical appliances, to be durable and to be economically repairable to ensure long life. I am pleased that, at last, Which? are addressing this in their product reviews. Initially in dishwashers and washing machines.

There may always be justification for appliances that are not repairable and do not last as long from those who use them less frequently – second home owners for example – on the assumption that is the only way to get a cheap product. But I do not believe that it costs a substantial amount more to make a repairable durable product. Usually it requires better-quality components, but electric motors, pumps, bearings, electronics are not going to be radically more expensive, better design and assembly. I consider the environmental pay off to far outweigh the extra cost.

I would like to see any non-repairable products clearly marked with what cannot be replaced at the point of sale, so we are at least informed when choosing what to buy. I would also like to see the current cost of common available spares – say pump, motor, circuit board, drum bearings – and how long the manufacturer will make them available.

I suspect that this convo has been relaunched more to grandstand the new Which? “ECO BUY” labels, than to solicit genuine input from members and other consumers. So I had a look to see how those labels are being applied, without the benefit of our input.

As a reminder, ECO BUY labels are awarded to “Products that score well in our tests and have a proven lower impact on the environment as measured by our own criteria.” But Which? are not exactly following the science – not even their own – so it is quite hard to work out how these labels are being applied and what criteria are being used.

If you select only “ECO BUY” washing machines, 16 machines are returned out of 132 “Best Buys”, mostly Bosch and Miele brands, but only a quarter of the total number of these manufacturers’ machines tested (over 50 “Best Buys”, not counting Siemens and Neff).

Are Which? really re-evaluating tests carried out as long as four years ago? And how exactly, when some of these machines are no longer available or in very limited supply? Is there a lab full of old washing machines?

Stranger still, none of these manufacturers’ machines score at least 4 out of 5 for Energy use, and only 6 are returned for Water use.

If these brands’ machines have been selected based on other Eco-critera (durability, repairability, recyclability, carbon-offset, etc.), what are they and why don’t they apply across the range?

In summary, without some published critera and test data to support them, these extra labels are about as meaningless as the “can be recycled”, “sustainable”, “eco-friendly”, “organic” and “compostable” labels that are rightly subject to scrutiny and campaigns by organisations like Which?

I was gently despairing about this but certainly support Which? paying more attention to sustainability.

What concerned me was that on of the products featured in the magazine report is a smart appliance. What will happen when it no longer speaks to the phone? I hope that it will continue to function as a dumb machine when the novelty wears off.

We have frequently discussed built-in obsolescence as a reason for products being scrapped but I suspect that ‘premature replacement’ may have more to do with owners rather than products themselves.

From many discussions with friends, family and people I have chatted with it seems common to replace products because they are ‘quite old’ and they are concerned that they might fail or just because they wanted a new one.

A friend who is a landlord routinely replaces white goods because this attracts new tenants. He buys budget products at trade prices and they tend to survive for a few years until the property is redecorated and equipped with new appliances for the next tenant. From an economic point of view it seems to work. I have not asked what happens to the ‘old’ appliances that are still in working condition.

There have been various documentaries etc. that have reported that electrical goods taken to recycling centres are often still in working condition. Nowadays, many charity shops will collect electrical goods and test them for electrical safety. I don’t suppose many people keep their appliances when they have a new kitchen fitted, and some of the appliances supplied with expensive new kitchens are not the best quality.

Perhaps what irritates me most is when people discard products that just need a simple repair or are misbehaving because they have not been properly maintained. When I was negotiating what I would pay for a new home I asked the vendors if they were aware of any problems. I was reminded that the dishwasher was ‘no longer fully effective’ (this information had already been given) and the vendors offered to get rid of it. I kept it and spent half an hour removing limescale from the spray arms. He also said that there was a problem with the main oven because the door handle was very loose. A couple of new screws and shakeproof washers fixed this problem. Both appliances are over fifteen years old and will well be replaced at some stage, but they have survived for an extra four years. I have seen many household products where a simple fix needing no special tools was all that was needed to fix problems.

On the other hand, I don’t want to use an old computer or phone.

I think mobile phones are one of the obvious examples of what you call premature replacement. And many people use older computers. We need to think very carefully about what we need to buy but, when so many have “discretionary spending” – more money than they need for normal living – they will spend it. I guess those living near the breadline would be using old phones, white goods and an old car because they cannot afford to replace them.

The amount of use that a product is used is a measure of whether it represents good use of resources. I use my mobile every day and many younger people make much more use of their phones. I do not regret replacing my previous smartphone after nearly five years because the new one performs better and is safe to use for banking and other financial purposes.

It was wasteful for me to buy a cheap electric hammer drill/chisel to demolish a wall prior to rebuilding because I’ve only needed it ones in over 20 years. I had intended to give it to a charity but it was declined because it is 230 rather than 110V and the latter is needed to comply with safety requirements for non-domestic use.

@mbriggs Hi Mike – The European ‘Right to Repair’ requirements should mean that spare parts and servicing information must be made available from 2021, but I have read that some manufacturers want to restrict this to companies that do servicing. I hope Which? will support making parts freely available, so that DIY enthusiasts like myself can repair our own household goods. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFNxyDjrpNE&feature=emb_logo

BEUC report a German view on this (BEUC is an umbrella organisation for European Consumers’ Associations):
“Second, more should have been done on the repair front. The measures state that in some cases only professional repairers will receive spare parts and repair instructions. This leaves behind consumers who want to repair things themselves. Why would a consumer not be able to replace the light bulb of his own fridge? In a survey carried out by the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv), 25% of respondents said that they had repaired a broken appliance themselves or with the help of a friend. Money is not always the sole reason behind self-repair. Fun and satisfaction also play a part. Psychologists call it “the experience of self-efficacy”.

“For the first time the measures include requirements for repairability and recyclability, contributing to circular economy objectives by improving the life span, maintenance, re-use, upgrade, recyclability and waste handling of appliances.

Spares and instructions must be available to everyone, although there should be disclaimers for diy repairs in case they are done incompetently.

This will need to be an international initiative otherwise the producers a more than likely going to ignore the pleas of just one state. Which?, hopefully, will be working with those sister organisations under BEUC to ensure we get a consensus and action. We cannot really expect to go it alone and succeed.

Thanks Malcolm. I have read these articles but they may be of interest to others. I can certainly identify with the ‘fun and satisfaction’ of doing my own repairs.

The concept of a circular economy fascinates me: https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org In principle the idea seems worthwhile, and proper recycling certainly is, but commercial pressure could turn this into a business model where older models are traded in for newer ones. We already see examples such as customers trading in their ‘old’ phone for a new one after two years. Businesses like this approach because it helps their cash flow. I hope my fears about the circular economy are not justified.

It frustrates me when I am not able to obtain spares. I used to buy laptop batteries from Apple but now that batteries for Apple products are not deemed user-replaceable the only way of replacing a battery is by getting the job done by an Apple Store or one of their authorised service providers. When I was having to charge my phone every morning I bought a third party replacement battery and fitted it with the help of an iFixit video. Not the easiest job I have tackled it, but the new battery performed excellently for a couple of months. It then deteriorated and would not hold a charge for more than a few hours. Since the phone was about five years old I decided to buy a new one. Some time later I found that the failing battery in the old phone had swollen, bursting open the case:

The refusal by Apple to supply spares to independent repairers and the public has resulted in a great deal of consumer pressure, certainly in the US.

I look forward to all phone and laptop batteries being user-replaceable and the likes of Apple being forced to sell spares.

“I look forward to all phone and laptop batteries being user-replaceable and the likes of Apple being forced to sell spares.”

Wouldn’t that be nice? But it seems to me that the designs of phones are laptops are heading in the opposite direction, to designs that give no easy options for the replacement of any parts, other than perhaps batteries. But even changing the latter requires case opening operations.

Perhaps the best sensible option is to design and build items for a long working life and avoid issues such as planned obsolescence, e.g. from lack of software support.

My ~2010 X201 laptop (see:-http://www.notebookreview.com/notebookreview/lenovo-thinkpad-x201-review/ ) installed a W10 upgrade yesterday and still seems to be working fine. It is still my main “work” PC, because I could never get W10 to run properly on a newer (X240) alternative.

Most of my other PC’s now run Linux and are unlikely to be ever affected by software end of life issues. I’ve owned my oldest regularly used PC since buying it new in 2008, but it is now only used for retro gaming under XP.

You can buy a Fairphone. which is claimed to be more sustainable, both by the manufacturer and others. In a commercial world, products need to sell or we need legislation to require that batteries are user-replaceable or that software support continues for longer.

The iPhone 5s model in my photo did not support iOS 13 but this model continues to be supported, seven years after the phone was released. Apple has done this by releasing security updates to the previous operating system and iOS 12.5.2 was released in March. That’s better than other makes and better than other iPhones. Had I been able to buy a genuine replacement battery I might still be using that phone.

Perhaps we should push for legislation that requires manufacturers to provide security support for X years after launch. That would be a level playing field. How we persuade owners not to replace their phone after two years or less might be harder challenge.

I’ve various old computers that I use periodically, albeit not online. I have a flat-screen iMac dating from 2002. It’s a quirky all-in-one display and I use it to display photos at events.

In the last few years, we have bought a new Bosch washing machine and (6 months ago) a new Bosch dishwasher – both on the strength of Which? Best Buy reviews. These were graded A+ or higher for economy and efficiency, and were scored highly for performance by Which? However, in both cases, these machines perform markedly poorer that the 15-year-old and 25-year-old respective Bosch appliances they replaced. In the case of the clothes washing machine, it has to be run on the longest, hottest wash that the clothes can stand if they are not to emerge still smelling of sweat, and the machine has to be treated monthly with a noxious cleaning fluid that I worry is harming our sceptic tank (which the previous machine did not require). In the case of the dishwasher, it requires to be run on the hottest settings and for much longer than our old one, with less cookery, more spread out, and even them some dishes emerge still dirty. This means that both machines have to be run more often than our old ones – which I cannot believe is more economical in either water or energy. It begs 2 questions: have Which? become more lenient in theirs scoring of appliance performance over the years; and are the efficiency grading systems by the manufacturers a big con, based on mythical ‘ideal’ conditions and partial loads (analogous to the alleged VW fraud over diesel emissions)?

Modern washing machines typically use lower temperatures but longer cycles to achieve the same cleaning performance. This saves energy and the lower temperature means less damage to the fabric. Temperature settings could be meaningless, as explained in this Which? article: https://www.staticwhich.co.uk/documents/pdf/62-65_washingmachines-331452.pdf

There are two problems that could explain the problem with your washing machine, James:

1. Manufacturers often provide quick wash cycles which are appealing but to wash effectively at lower temperatures you need longer washes.

2. When washing at lower temperatures it is important to do a periodic ‘maintenance wash’ at the maximum temperature, as explained in the manual. Without this a slime of bacteria and moulds will build-up unseen in the innards of the machine.

It might be worth giving Bosch a ring but I suspect they will make similar suggestions and also suggest that the machine is not overloaded. The main problem with my Miele is inadequate rinsing, which means that I often have to run a second short wash programme. It probably uses more water than the single cycle in the 34 year old Philips machine that it replaced.

I have no experience with modern dishwashers but if the performance has deteriorated this could be due to blocked filters or limescale in the spray arms. If food has been allowed to dry it might help to run the short rinse cycle to soften it before the wash cycle.

As I said above, I now wash my ALL clothes at the hottest AND longest programmes available – I have never been tempted to use the short or eco washes, since even the longer ones fail to wash the clothes properly. The manual does indeed mention a ‘maintenance’ wash – with washing machine cleaner, and we do do this. However, these strong noxious cleaning detergent eventually end up under the field behind us – which can’t be good for the environment – it seems like Bosch taking credit for reducing energy and water use, but just passing environmental harm on to other concerns.

We live in a very soft water, with virtually no limescale (or very little other mineral content), and in any case, the dishwasher performed poorly (despite Which? Best Buy) from day 1, 6 months ago, and be have only gradually got it performing acceptably by switching to hotter and longer programmes.

Hi James – The way that we damage the environment concerns me too. Maybe if we all had septic tanks like you do we might be more careful about what chemicals we use.

I do not know what Bosch cleaning detergent contains and cannot find a ‘safety data sheet’ which would list potentially hazardous chemicals. Maintenance washes can be done at 90 or 95°C with ordinary washing powder (or tablets), which usually containing a bleach – unlike liquids or gels that do not. It should not be necessary to use washing machine cleaner and the instructions for my own machine don’t suggest using a cleaner.

It’s best to use powder or tablet detergents when possible, but these can fade dark colours, meaning that liquids or powders for coloured fabrics should be used.

My Bosch dishwasher is about 15 years old and both the ‘Eco’ and ‘Quick’ cycles are useless. Thankfully the ‘Normal’ cycle is effective and I occasionally use the ‘Intensive’ setting which takes less time.

I have an email update from Which?:
“Only 5-10% of washing machines and dishwashers we’ve tested are sustainable enough to be Eco Buys.

Minimum requirements for an Eco Buy washing machine
Total test score: at least 60%. Energy efficiency 3* (out of 5) : Water efficiency 3* : Cleaning power 5*:
No rating for durability (brand longevity)

Minimum requirements for an Eco Buy dishwasher
Total test score: at least 65%. Energy efficiency 5* : Water efficiency 5*: Good brand longevity

No mention of economic repairability, length of guarantee.

The minimum requirement for the washing machine, and lack of information on how sensible repairs might be, seems disappointing. Are washing machines really no better than this? I’d have thought if only a very few met a high standard they should be the only ones listed. Of 153 “best buys” none were better. Of 20 “don’t buys” 11 exceeded the energy efficiency and 8 water efficiency; so it can be done (but at the expense of performance?).

I wonder if the criteria need looking at to decide the best balance between energy and water efficiency and performance but, on the current basis, I’d suggest there are no washing machines worthy of an Eco label?


I was interested in this article from today’s BBC News website headlined “City drivers ‘should think twice’ before buying SUVs” –

It was good to see an official spokesperson from the RAC Foundation, say: “We should all choose the right vehicle for the right trip to cut the size of our carbon footprint.

“It is right to question if suburban drivers need a car capable of ploughing over rivers, across fields and up steep hills just to pop to the shops.”

Around our urban area in Norwich there are lots of big SUV’s on the front drives [and waiting outside the private schools at 3:30 pm] but once you get out into the country the average vehicle on the roads is small, old and mud-splattered. Any ‘utility’ vehicles are of the working kind like traditional Land Rovers and similar models; big SUV’s in the rural areas tend to be attached to horse boxes or agricultural trailers [near the Broads, it’s a boat, and near the coast it’s a caravan from miles away].

I thought about posting about the same article, John. I don’t know the answer. As well as SUVs, many drive around unnecessarily in 4×4 vehicles, estate cars, vans, motorhomes and even small minibuses. At some times they may be necessary but most of the time they waste fuel and can be a nuisance for others when parked in urban areas.

In some cases the fuel waste may be offset in other ways. For example, someone driving a powerful car capable of towing a caravan might take their holidays in the UK rather that flying abroad for their holidays.

We have a love affair with cars and I have just seen an unfamiliar black shiny SUV pass the window.

We could “waste” less fuel by using our vehicles less and by using public transport – but that needs to be adequate. We cannot expect people to scrap their SUVs, 4x4s, minibuses, estate cars (or “touring, like mine), motorhomes, nor powerful cars. No good just selling them to someone else. I don’t know how we know they drive them around “unnecessarily”; I just go out in my enjoyable 3l touring when I need to, at a paltry 40mpg.

I don’t know how we know they drive them around “unnecessarily”

Well, if a 16 seater minibus is used for just a single person most of the time, or a large, 4 wheel drive SUV is confined to the school run for most of its existence, then I think we can tell.

I remember when we first bought an all-wheel drive Toyota. This was many years ago, and I’d related the purchase in the original forum. There was a very hostile response from one person, who wanted to know just why I needed a huge 4by4 in the town. I pointed out, rather gently, where we lived and he quickly retracted his objections.

I don’t see many (or any) people who own 16 seater minibuses and just drive them around on their own. And if a 4wd SUV is only used for the school run they are not going to be doing many miles. Like my people carriers their footprint is not necessarily larger than a car. But whatever we might like, owners are not just going to discard them. So, do we ban them? How do we decide to dictate what people can and cannot own,who should hav one and who should not? Larger houses than they need with high energy costs – will they be banned? Flying abroad on holiday? Cruises? Bit tricky, isn’t it?

“Results from a 14-month collaborative study (Utah State University) show that 75 percent of a vehicle’s combined emissions occur within the first three minutes of being started after it has sat for 12 hours for more” which tends to suggest that “if a 4wd SUV is only used for the school run they are not going to be doing many miles” is probably the wrong perception of a serious problem.

And you might be surprised at just how many people have access to a minibus and drive it mainly for themselves. It is, in fact, the way I learnt to drive although, to be fair, the roads generally were a little less crowded then.

With regard to the final aspect of your argument, I’m thinking far more about the environmental impact of this sort of behaviour. And you’re right: it is tricky.

Malcolm – You have told us that you own two old diesel people carriers and a big BMW, and have repeatedly suggested that we need to make more use of public transport. Maybe a non-driver would be a better advocate. I once went to an outdoor conservation event attended by David Bellamy and was quite surprised that there was a large hog roast.

My top priority for public transport is decent park & ride services using electric buses, in cities with air quality problems.

I don’t think a non-driver would be any better advocate than anyone else who thinks about these issues. That implies drivers have no right to express a considered view. They do.

I can only drive one car at a time, of course, and my BMW is no bigger than most estate cars and served a purpose when I bought it over 5 years ago. It still does, and I do a relatively low mileage.

I have repeatedly advocated spending public money on electric and other public transport so we can all use our cars less. But it needs to be tackled properly.

Perhaps the claim that large numbers of 16 seater minibuses are driven around regularly with only one occupant could be substantiated?

As far as I am aware the engine type and size is more likely to determine cold emissions, whether it is fitted into an SUV or any other vehicle. Pollution then will depend upon how far you drive But there is more to environmental impact than just the noxious emissions formed when starting. CO2 is an inevitable consequence of combustion and is emitted continuously, so the further you drive the more you emit; and less if you only do short journeys. We need to think of this problem overall.

I wasn’t aware we were conserving pigs. We breed them to eat. And David looked fairly well fed. Maybe the fire was the focus of the conservation comment?

I read recently that manufacturers were cutting back on the production of SUV’s and reducing the number of models in their range. The reason given was so that they could concentrate on the manufacture of all-electric vehicles. I don’t know how true this is or whether it was just a story made up by the press to fill some space.

We once lived next door to a family that had four large 4WD cars on their frontage, all facing forward. They were all white and the place looked like an ambulance station. Black now seems to be the new white.

Phil says:
14 April 2021

Makes you wonder how people managed pre-SUVs. It must’ve been hell.

A friend’s wife has a Volvo SUV and when I asked why they claimed they needed the upright seating position. Hubby then bought himself an F Type Jag which has anything but upright seating…

Some other views are given here https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/industry/analysis-just-how-green-are-electric-vehicles
The CO2 “emissions” of an EV depends upon the generating fuel mix. The UK still has a substantial fossil fuel component. We also need to consider the amount of CO2 used to manufacture the EV and its batteries, and when that substantial extra CO2 is offset by the mileage it is driven.

Other unpleasant emissions need consideration in built up areas of course.

My choice, if I had to change my car, would be for a plug in hybrid providing it could only run on batteries in built up areas – presumably satnav would handle that – and had sufficient range to deal with those journeys. I would have to accept poorer performance on the open road, dragging around the extra weight.

Phil says:
14 April 2021

A lot of the pollution is dust, particulates, from the tyres and brakes. That’s not going to change much with the switch to electric although smaller, lighter vehicles ought to produce less.

Very good, Phil.

Older people often struggle to get out of low seats and opt for cars with a higher seating position. I’m OK at the moment but must think about seating position when I replace my present car.

Malcolm – I recall that we were very much in agreement about tackling air pollution, particularly in cities. I take your point that non-drivers might not be the best advocate for public transport, but they could be a useful members of a working group charged with working out how we move forward.

Much is said about the benefits of moving to electric vehicles and there will be immediate benefits in reducing pollution, but the reduction in carbon emissions will only be realised when we stop burning gas and biomass to produce electricity. We are certainly agreed on the need to produce more electricity though how best to achieve this is going to be a major challenge. Burning biomass to produce electricity is undoubtedly better than coal electricity produced in this way is not renewable, as has been pointed out by many people.

David Bellamy was very much opposed to global warming but subsequently changed his views.

John – Thanks for the update about SUVs. I presume that smaller vehicles with a higher seating position are considerably more economical than SUVs.

When looking at the sustainability of cars the use of materials and pollution including carbon emissions should take account of manufacture and disposal.

We must remember many cars are for families, often with young children. My two sons need to carry round prams – quite bulky these days – along with other related paraphernalia that take up more room than even a small SUV can provide. The car must meet the need.

Some older people do have difficulty with the low seating position in ordinary cars. Fortunately not me, yet. But one nice feature of my deux Espaces is their higher and more upright seating positions that make entering and leaving easier. And, even though they have 7 seats and turn into very useful load carriers they take up no more road space than many cars do.

Smaller cars with higher seating positions don’t seem to create the right image for the SUV enthusiasts.

I am not terribly interested in SUV’s so I have not paid much attention to their specification but I think some of the bigger ones, such as BMW, Audi, and Land Rover Discovery PHEV’s, have more than enough power to haul their extra weight around with high performance. I think that must be the major appeal of the type because four-wheel drive, higher ground clearance and off-road capability are not required for driving on UK roads. Everything in an SUV is scaled up and the weight of the extra metal and glass, plus the larger engine and battery configuration in a PHEV, must add considerably to the overall weight of the vehicle consuming more fuel, producing higher emissions, and having a bigger carbon footprint in manufacture.

As someone with one leg that doesn’t fold properly at the hinge I find getting in and out of a high threshold car more difficult than with our car which is quite low slung and I can lower myself into it gently. People must try before they buy.

It wouldn’t be difficult for manufacturers to produce a long-lasting, economical and roomy saloon with enough space for four adults, wide-opening doors and fully adjustable seats. But would it sell?

It’s not me who is arguing against personal transport, Malcolm and I’ve also commented on the need for cars that are easy to get in and out of.

The government can take action (as with the forthcoming ban on petrol/diesel) cars but I don’t see much scope for many people voluntarily changing their purchase and use of cars. More than anything else I would like to see reduction in commuting, so hopefully the pandemic will have a lasting effect.

I agree; driving fewer miles by car would be a huge step forward. I doubt many people like sitting in queues of traffic (causing more pollution) and driving a long way to work, nor wasting time and money, at the expense of home life. We need a real initiative to move business and other organisations into more widespread areas so your job can be nearer where you live, or you can find affordable accommodation in an area with work.

Rather than us debating whether we should have bigger cars or smaller, we should be simply looking at substantially reducing our everyday need to use them and, when we do, drive much shorter distances. That would, I believe, drastically reduce emissions and, for EVs, the need for too much more electricity generation.

However, it is far far easier to say “we’ll ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030” than to do the hard work necessary in providing a solution for the future.

I do hope one step forward that Covid has shown is the ability for many people to work from home, at least for most of their working week. My family have found this works well and they are also more productive and tend to work a little longer hours. But great for the work/family balance. But not enough on its own.

Another consequence of this is less need for office space, so conversion to flats should help relieve the housing problem.

I’ve been enthusiastic about working from home since the start of the first lockdown. Part-time working at home worked well for me, though obviously it is only viable for some employees. I did not do too much working from home in case someone questioned whether I needed my own office. 🙂

Though I am enthusiastic about electric vehicles, how much pollution will be produced in their manufacture? That’s one reason I’m not planning to rush out any buy one until my present car deserves replacement.

”Though I am enthusiastic about electric vehicles, how much pollution will be produced in their manufacture?
The Autocar link I gave above says something about this:
”Using the average CO2 output of the European electricity network, Ernst concluded that an electric car using a 60kWh battery made in Europe would have to travel some 700,000 kilometres (435,000 miles) before it is “greener than an average petrol car”. However, Ernst also says that a fully renewable European grid would reduce the EV’s CO2 lag to just 30,000km (18,640 miles).

Not good, is it? Perhaps we are putting the cart before the horse? I still believe a major step would be to encourage a substantial reduction in private mileage.

malcolm r says:Today 15:14

”Using the average CO2 output of the European electricity network, Ernst concluded …. ”

His calculations are open to significant debate and the article also says “There’s no doubt that travelling in EVs has a smaller CO2 footprint than even the best internal combustion engine cars because the efficiency of a battery-electric drivetrain is around three times that of a normal petrol car and more than twice that of the latest Toyota Prius hybrid.”

Manufacturing batteries is CO2 intensive, as is manufacturing cars themselves – of whatever variety. The difference is that diesel and petrol cars continue to spew the stuff out for their lifetimes.

The Autocar article gave appropriate comments along these lines, which is why I referenced it and did not just extract.

What is often forgotten when comparing the “efficiency” of electrical propulsion vs. fossil fuel is the inefficiencies in the electrical generation, transmission and conversion chain. This significantly affects the actual efficiency. Looking Europe wide and still in the UK, a significant part of the generation fuel mix is gas. https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/data-portal/electricity-generation-mix-quarter-and-fuel-source-gb. Fossil fuel.

To get 1kWh of energy into the car battery requires nearly 2.7kWh of the fossil component with a typical current fuel mix, the rest coming from renewable sources. You could argue that at night renewables are less – no sun – so maybe the balance is worse. I haven’t examined that. So the fossil fuel equivalent efficiency of an EV is not dissimilar to a modern petrol and diesel car.

That balance will change as the generation sources change, but it is not great at present and, with increasing demands on the horizon for electricity for cooking and domestic heating, with insufficient green energy in the pipeline, it does not look that good for the next few years.

On pollution, there is no question that EVs and PHEVs are far better for the health of the air in towns and cities. But while fossil fuelled power stations contribute insignificantly, I hope, to that, they emit CO2 which is bad for the planet and global warming.

The very significant CO2 footprint of EV batteries is not a feature of fossil fuelled cars. It is a substantial extra and, as the article claims, could take many years to recover the advantage.

This is not a simple issue in which to make comparisons. I remain of the view that our best way forward is simply to use less energy for personal transport by substantially reducing our need to use it and therefore the mileage. A bit like insulating your home. That means less need to travel, giving up some pleasures, using an improved public transport system.

I’d rather we used energy for essentials like heating, cooking, lighting, and necessary manufacturing and services, for example, until we achieve the supply of energy from genuine renewables that can feed our discretionary uses.

https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/product-sustainability-durability-testing/#comment-1623571““Results from a 14-month collaborative study (Utah State University) show that 75 percent of a vehicle’s combined emissions occur within the first three minutes of being started after it has sat for 12 hours for more” which tends to suggest that “if a 4wd SUV is only used for the school run they are not going to be doing many miles” is probably the wrong perception of a serious problem.

That will apply to all vehicles, whether used for school runs or otherwise. Same initial concentration of unpleasant emissions but those doing longer journeys than just the school run will then emit even more emissions. I suggested the distance a vehicle is driven is the issue.

Some suggest somewhat less than 3 minutes while the catalytic converter swings into action. Corning are looking at materials to work more quickly, presumably at lower operating temperatures.

Join UL for

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Wednesday, May 12, 2021 | 11:00 a.m. CST
This webinar provides an overview of how UL can help you accelerate testing, dives into details reviewing different existing acceleration models and discusses the process to create your own model that is specifically tailored to your product’s characteristics.
An introduction to accelerated testing
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Maybe Which? would find this helpful in testing certain products to give additional useful information. @gmartin, what do you think, George?

Wouldn’t be for me to say I’m afraid Malcolm. As far as I know I don’t think the teams who deal with product reviews are looking to partner with anyone at the moment.

@gmartin, George, this was not about partnering. UL LLC. are part of Underwriters Laboratories in North America who are involved in the preparation of standards and product testing. As far as I can see, this webinar is about how to carry out accelerated life tested and could well be informative to Which? as to how this might be done by them in future.

When we think of sustainability an essential part will be product longevity, so estimating that is a useful piece of information. test.de do that for washing machines; I’m surprised Which? don’t have an arrangement to make that available to UK consumers.

Phil says:
14 April 2021

As Which? outsource all their testing it would only be of academic interest and i do wonder if they have anybody with the necessary technical qualifications to understand it.

Thanks Phil. I assume Which? set the regime for testing with their commercial laboratories and requiring life testing of certain products could be one of their asks.

I am concerned that Which? do not, seemingly, have any formal involvement with the British Standards Institution and do not attend their specialist product committee meetings. I would have thought from their experience of product testing, perceived failures they report, and not least the constructive suggestions regularly made in Convos, that they should have a good deal to contribute on behalf of the consumer. And, of course, a good deal to learn.

I must confess, from responses often received, I am not sure how knowledgeable and experienced many are.

Phil says:
14 April 2021

From September the formulation of petrol will change, currently UK petrol, designated E5, contains 5% ethanol but this will change to E10 containing 10%. The government reckon it will save 750,000 tonnes of CO2 but there are problems.

Ethanol is corrosive and will slowly eat through rubber, plastic and fibreglass. This will affect rubber seals and hoses in the fuel systems of older vehicles in particular, causing the material to perish and eventually leak. One solution is to replace them with special ethanol-proof components (fuel hose, seals, etc.). Ethanol is particularly bad news for solder, so older vehicles with carburettors and brass floats will be especially vulnerable. if your vehicle is left unused for a couple of weeks or more, the water content in the fuel will rise, which could cause corrosion in the fuel system and poor starting and performance.

Ethanol is also 34% less energy-dense than petrol so to get the same power output from your engine, that accelerator pedal is going to have to be pressed harder! Obviously, this will have an effect on your vehicle’s fuel consumption.

E5 will be available until 2026.

Ethanol is derived from corn or sugar cane so it is renewable but should we be diverting more land from food production? Overall I’m not convinced that the cons outweigh the pros on this, it could be diesel all over again.

What’s the position of Which? on this?

I have my concerns about the move to E10 petrol. The problems should be largely confined to older and infrequently used engines, but hopefully modern vehicles will be little affected. With small engines the use of E7 has already increased carburettor problems when fuel is not removed over the winter months. Growing crops to produce ethanol removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere but as you say it requires land. On balance it might be best to focus on reducing petrol consumption.

A related concern is biodiesel, which is hygroscopic and can absorb atmospheric moisture leading to problems of ‘diesel bug’. This is growth of bacteria or fungi at the diesel/water interface. At best it blocks the fuel filters, but expensive damage can occur. The problem tends to affect infrequently used diesel-powered machinery. For agricultural equipment and non-automotive use, red diesel without any biodiesel (so-called FAME-free red diesel) remains available from some suppliers.

Growing crops to produce ethanol removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere” but that CO2 is presumably returned to the atmosphere when the ethanol is burned in the engine.

Yes, photosynthesis removes carbon dioxide and engines return it. Bioethanol (if produced from plants) is a renewable energy source but producing it takes up land that could be used for food and there are plenty of drawbacks.

There was an interesting programme on Colour last night, concluding with “Red”, as seen, for example, in red ochre, one of the oxides of iron. Apparently the first microbes photosynthesised in our atmosphere of predominantly carbon dioxide. A by-product of photosynthesis is oxygen which, at first combined, with free iron in our oceans to form iron oxides that were then deposited on the ocean floor. Once that iron had been dealt with, oxygen then entered to atmosphere and the rest is history.

I’m sure everyone else knew that.

These early bacteria are cyanobacteria, often known by the old name ‘blue-green algae’. They are very different from many other bacteria.


This article gives the example ” The cheapest Best Buy washing machine is £200 and the cheapest Best Buy tumble dryer is £399. But you need to pay more to get a Best Buy washer-dryer. The cheapest costs £599 – exactly the same as buying two separate machines.

It raises the question of just how useful is the term “Best Buy” based on the criteria that Which use. Among the “cheapest Best Buy washing machines” are a couple of Beko. In a January 2021 report Beko are clearly one of the worst to remain fault free and get the lowest average test score. No mention of how repairable these, and other cheap machines are, how much the repairs cost that other machines may not need, nor just how how well made.

I would suggest that when pursuing a “sustainability” agenda – and we should – the way Which? assesses Best Buys needs a significant change

Durability? @laurenstacey, Lauren, for some long time I have been pressing Which? to explain and make use of the “durability” requirement in the Consumer Rights Act 2015 to help people whose appliances, for example, fail out of guarantee but unreasonably early in their life.

In the May Which? mag, p61, is a short piece about a consumers whose Bosch dishwasher failed after 3 1/2 years, outside its 2 year guarantee. Which? Legal helped get John Lewis to pay £250 redress, £60 independent report cost and the court fee of £35. What the article does not say is exactly on what grounds the court application was being made. It would be useful to know. Was their a clear fault present when new – one CRA requirement – or was it lack of reasonable durability?

Given the modest cost of instituting court proceedings I think Which? could usefully publish an article in the mag on how to tackle a retailer, particularly the procedure for taking court proceedings, when you think you are being treated unfairly. It might – should – persuade retailers to settle when they know they are in the wrong.

Sustainability includes product life, and that requires proper investigation to predict what it might be. Techniques exist for doing part of that – accelerated testing, for example. I wonder if Which? are aware of this webinar?
(UL – was Underwriters Laboratories – are a USA testing and standards organisation)

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Wednesday, May 12, 2021 | 11:00 a.m. CST

This webinar provides an overview of how UL can help you accelerate testing, dives into details reviewing different existing acceleration models and discusses the process to create your own model that is specifically tailored to your product’s characteristics.

An introduction to accelerated testingMild acceleration techniques and modelsHow to create your company’s own product acceleration model
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I notice in Which?’s The Weekly Scoop received today that one of the articles is called “Is it time to upgrade your coffee machine?“.

How does that approach fit within Which?’s commitment to sustainability?

The need for a new coffee machine should not be based on how long you have had it, or whether your kitchen would look nicer with a new one. This is pure consumerism, and I was hoping that was going to stop. At least the article pointed out the heavy environmental harm of the pod machines.

Perhaps we are innocent, naïve, uncivilised or uncultured, but we manage to make good coffee with a kettle, a cafetière and some ground coffee. We also find our results quite sustaining.

I wonder what Which?’s real philosophy is, John. A best buy EV was an £80+k Porshe. A phone given best buy status has only 18 months of security. Cheap appliances are given best buy status when it should be clear that they are unlikely to have particularly long lives, nor be repairable.

Their seems to be a disconnect within Which? Or are they just riding two horses to please all consumers.

I find coffee from a cafetiere using ground coffee from a packet perfectly good. If I want freshly ground beans I have a cheap Braun grinder that takes no time to produce the grind of my choice.

Why do a need a hissing monster bedecked with dials and costing a fortune – up to £1299 in Which’s promotion – including those where you have to buy coffee in “pods”? More waste of both materials and money.

Perhaps time to consider what their real attitude is to sustainability?

Coming next in the The Weekly Scoop – how to cut your risk from strokes by drinking tasty alternatives to strong coffee?

I bought a filter coffee machine in 1987 and used it until a couple of years ago, when I bought a new bean to cup machine, which produces much nicer coffee. What about the environmental harm caused by those who purchase luxury cars rather than more modest ones?

We are still members of the Consumerism Association, John. At least sustainability gets a mention these days.

The next time Which? do a wine tasting maybe they would include CHÂTEAU PÉTRUS Grand Vin Pomerol 2013 £3,150.00 (£420 per 100.00ml – ah, that sounds better) before driving home in the Porshe EV to make coffee in a £1299 gadget.

A Porshe? Like Panasoanic it sounds like a cheap counterfeit.

In two weeks time in the Weekly Scoop, how to further reduce your risk from strokes by getting more exercise, e.g. by leaving your expensive EV at home and walking to the shops.

I recommend Fortnum & Mason’s Hawaiian Coffee Beans [125g tin for £50.00]. Nothing less would be appropriate.

Lower-priced coffees are also available from Colombia, Peru, Jamaica and The Yemen with really cheap varieties from Ethiopia and India [227g for £10.95].

I slum it with Honduran coffee from M&S at £3.50 for half a pound. As it happens I’m enjoying (really) a cup from my £10 cafetiere right now. I might have a glass of CHÂTEAU PÉTRUS later on if the sun ever gets over the yard arm.

I reckon that a coffee machine that lasted 30 years and was used frequently was a sensible purchase. The plastic parts were in a state of decay but the gold-plated filter was still in good condition.

Most of my coffee comes from Waitrose, courtesy of a friend who buys it when it is on offer. Coffee beans keep well but come in non-recyclable packs. When I feel safe to go into shops I will explore our zero waste shop that sells loose beans.

I’ve had my cafetiere for 9 years. It is double walled stainless steel and, barring an earthquake, is unlikely to fail.

I wonder when the next machine recommended will roast fresh green beans and, being smart, know which cupboard to get them from?

I wonder where these are stocked – perhaps the next taste test will tell us:

”What are the most expensive coffees in the world in 2021? It’s made by elephants, literally. The Black Ivory Coffee Company in Thailand feeds elephants with Arabia beans. The excreted beans are then roasted and processed into coffee, the perfect brew to wake you up. If elephant dung isn’t your thing, no worries. Here are other expensive coffee brands priced by the pound.

Black Ivory Coffee – More than $500/pound
Finca El Injerto Coffee – $500/pound
Hacienda La Esmeralda– More than $500/pound
Kopi Luwak – $160/pound
Saint Helena Coffee – $79/pound
Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee – More than $50/pound
Fazenda Santa Ines – $50/pound
Starbucks Quadriginoctuple Frap – $47.30/cup

Who’d a thought thirty years ago we’d all be sittin’ here drinking CHÂTEAU PÉTRUS?

Aye. In them days, we’d a’ been glad to have the price of a cup o’ tea.

A cup o’ COLD tea.

Without milk or sugar.

OR tea!

In a cracked cup, and all.

Rowenta FK18, purchased 16/5/87 for £27.95 and used until about two years ago. It replaced a Melitta filter coffee maker that died after only seven years. I shortened and corrected my post. It served me well but eventually looked very scruffy thanks to deterioration of the plastics.

I had a Rowenta filter machine that lasted well. What I did not like was that it did not give coffee that was quite hot enough and if the jug was left standing on the hotplate the coffee gradually became more bitter. I find a cafetiere does exactly the same job but without the disadvantages.

The Which? review commented on this. The lower temperature and permanent gold-plated filter were the features that encouraged me to buy this model. If left on a hotplate, coffee will become darker and more bitter, so what I usually did was to turn off the hotplate and heat up a cup of coffee in the microwave oven when needed. I presume that oxidation is a factor because hot coffee keeps for longer in a full vacuum flask.

I thought I might have to scrap the Rowenta coffee machine after ten years because the jug cracked under the metal band attached to the handle. Fortunately I was able to buy a spare jug of improved design. Long-term availability of spares can greatly increase the life of products.

The Pure DAB radio beside the coffee machine dates from 2003 and hopefully will continue working until the BBC moves to DAB+.

I sent 2 filter machines similar to that to the charity shop only a couple of years ago. Older than yours wavechange they were in almost perfect condition. They might have been tried out once or twice before finding themselves at the back of the cupboard.

We are also the proud? owners of a Krups Espresso mini C also in near-perfect condition bought 30 years ago after our first holiday together when we drove down to Italy, loved the coffee so bought a wooden grinder to grind our own on our return. It was used a couple of times, but the results didn’t warrant the amount of cleaning it required after use, and I have been reminded it lives at the back of high shelf, out of sight.

Apart from the lukewarm results, we have always had a problem finding coffee beans or ground coffee we like better than what comes out of a jar. Coffee beans are too expensive to keep buying, trying and discarding and they never taste as good as they smell.

The smell of beans and ground coffee is the best part. 🙂

Ease of use and cleaning are very important, I agree. I was given a DeLonghi pressure machine about ten years ago and although it produces decent coffee it was hard work and rarely used. It’s still in good condition so it can go to a charity shop when I can find the instructions.

I suspect unwanted gifts are responsible for a great deal of waste.

I remember walking past Davy’s, the grocers in Sheffield centre, who had a gas-fired coffee bean roaster in their ventilated window that gave off a wonderful smell, better than the actual taste of coffee.

Absolutely, Malcolm. I remember the wonderful smell of roasting coffee at our village grocer, even though the flavour was too much for me when I was young. I did not have much money as a student but enough for a weekly packet of freshly ground coffee.

Well, it is a start but it needs much more. It is a very restrictive list. “Manufacturers will now have to make spare parts available for washing machines, washer-dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators and TVs for the first time.” I do not see why it does not include far more in domestic appliances and other power equipment like diy tools for example.

It is also unfairly restrictive in who the parts are made available to . Why restrict it to “professionals” and deny those competent “amateurs” the ability to choose to repair their own appliances. The cost of a professional repair may well see many older appliances discarded unnecessarily.

And why, for example, not include bits that should be simple to fit (at your own risk of course) like pumps, motors, motor brushes, springs and suchlike? These. like many other spares, seem to be available already.

This was all started while we were in the EU and will be adopted into UK law. Now we are out of the EU we can extend the requirements. I hope Which? is working hard to lobby government to ensure that is done.

The long awaited new regulations are a start but I hope that Which? will push for more action.

From the article: “For example, a tricky repair such as replacing a dishwasher’s drain pump will be available to the pros, while an easier and safer fix, such as fitting new drain filters, will be available to everyone.” Maybe we should be allowed to be a judge whether we have the capability to carry out tasks.

Precisely my point. There are very many competent people who are not domestic appliance repair specialists. You can tackle everything on your car; we should be able to do the same with any product we own. But we must take full responsibility for the repair, whether or not the manufacturer supplies instructions.

@jon-stricklin-coutinho, Jon, what is Which?’s attitude and is it lobbying for much less restrictive legislation?

Which? is removing its Which? Best Buy recommendation from any phone with less than a year of support remaining and has also added a security warning banner to its reviews of any affected devices.

I’d suggest a year as the criterion is pathetically short. Which? should, in my view, campaigning for phones to be supported for 4 or 5 years from when they are sold if we are to genuinely pursue a sustainable agenda.

Perhaps the biggest problem is consumers who cannot wait to replace their phones after a year or two, encouraged by contracts that include a phone.

There is a lot to be said for SIM-only contracts, although service providers may try to entice you into buying a new phone.

I’m glad that Which? has made a start in removing the Best Buy recommendations for phones with little remaining support. We still do not know the risks of using unsupported phones but I would not want to use an unsupported phone for anything financial.

Em says:
1 July 2021

Which? reported on “Why we’re calling for longer support for mobile phones” in a Convo on 5 May 2021.

I think the arguments about security vulnerability are being totally overplayed and said so in a reply addressed to Katie Bevan. Ignored, of course.

I’m not going to restate the arguments here, but not having security updates does NOT make a phone more vulnerable to attack. The vulnerabilities were always there – they simply haven’t been discovered yet. And the older a phone is, the less likely that new exploits willl be discovered. Either they have been found and patched already, or the interest for hackers has waned as they move on to concentrate on the latest shiny shiny tech.

How is coronavirus affecting house prices? https://www.which.co.uk/news/2021/07/how-will-the-coronavirus-affect-house-prices/

Friends inherited a house in West Yorkshire and put it up for sale a few days ago. There was immediate interest and three days later they accepted an offer in excess of the rather optimistic asking price.

The same is happening in East Anglia. For some properties the agents hardly manage to get a For Sale board up before it is overlaid with a Sold label.

At current interest rates buying a more expensive property might be an attractive option, particularly for cash buyers.

John, a relative is an estate agent and they have rarely been busier. Will stamp duty affect it? I’m not sure that is the driving force.
Those buying will hopefully have their financial capability assessed on the basis that interest rates will inevitably rise.

I do hope so, Malcolm. In the present uncertain times the risks of mortgage arrears could be significantly greater.