New rules to make household appliances more sustainable have been announced by the EU, but will they end up benefitting consumers?
As part of a continued effort to reduce Europe’s carbon footprint and to make energy bills cheaper for European consumers, new ‘right to repair’ rules have been announced.
From 2021, EU firms – and any UK firms wishing to sell to the EU market – will have to make products such as refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers and televisions longer-lasting.
Under the new standards, manufacturers will have to supply spare parts for these household appliances for up to 10 years.
The manufacturers must ensure spare parts can be replaced with the use of commonly available tools, without permanent damage to the appliance.
But under the new rules, only professional repairers – not consumers – will be supported by manufacturers to carry out the repairs.
Are the repair rules good or bad?
There’s been a long-standing view that new products just don’t last as long as they used to, with built-in obsolescence a growing concern for many.
As a result, the call for white goods to last longer than a couple of years is one which will surely be welcome news to most consumers.
But what about those of us who want to save time and money by purchasing our own spare parts and mending our own goods?
The pace of change in the industry, which now includes many products which have intricately mixed and increasingly complex digital and physical components, means many owners are usually either unable to source the right parts or repair the machines themselves.
Replace vs repair
Finding a professional repairer to carry out the fix at a decent price is often difficult. This means many turn to a replacement rather than a repair.
And we all know getting a replacement after a short while is just as wasteful from an environmental standpoint as it is a waste of money.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that warranties and guarantees can sometimes be more generous than your statutory rights, and give you an extra option to resolve problems with a product.
Ultimately the move to improve the longevity of white goods could be positive, but the monopoly on who repairs is a concern – especially if it’s going to become impossible for consumers to perform what would have been simple fixes themselves.
With all that in mind, what do you make of the new rules? We’d love to hear your thoughts.