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You may know, especially if you attended the Whitegoods Conference the past two years, that we've been telling all that repairability will be looked at and if not addressed legislation will come into force to make sure products can be repaired. It's happening.

One the past few years we have seen a rising cry for greater repairability and an end to "sealed units" that are very often uneconomic to replace but, aside from the damage to consumers that we see on a daily basis in our spares business, it is an environmental catastrophe.

Appliances being scrapped under two years old is not uncommon due to this and it is a "thing" at the lower end of the market more than up the price scale but, it can still happen there also.

But that's just appliances, this affects more than that and in fact probably most consumer goods from phones through appliances, to cars and much, much more.

Manufacturers will often claim that these sealed units are more relabel as they use less for service and spare parts sales well, D'UH, if they're so expensive as to make a repair uneconomical of course would use less, it doe snot in any way show that they are more reliable at all.

You will also hear that they will be less liable to leak, split and so on and there may be a glimmer of truth there but, all too often in our opinion, it's complete nonsense.

The truth is, it often makes production cheaper and in a market where consumers want lower and lower prices this overrides pretty much most other considerations and yes, the irony of people forced to pay up later for a cheap price upfront is not lost on us.

If you want to read more about this madness and see some examples, you can find a lot more in this article about planned obsolescence

All in all the current position is bad for the consumer, bad for the environment and bad for the industry. It has to change and these practices cannot be allowed to continue unchecked.

For us, it makes sense on so many levels to support the introduction of measures to prevent this culture of throw away products.

The EEB (European Environmental Bureau) reports this agreement to introduce legislation to try to draw a halt to this madness as follows:

EU governments have supported first-ever repairability measures for fridges despite opposition from manufacturers and hesitation from the European Commission. The same progressive approach may now also be applied to other popular products, NGOs understand.

On December 10, the EU’s 28 Member States agreed on a new set of manufacturing laws to make fridges and freezers more easily repairable and longer-lasting. The vote was the first of its kind for Europe.

Most notably, the agreed text foresees that repairers should be able to disassemble some critical parts without damaging the product and with the use of commonly available tools. Components of products are very often glued together or welded, which makes the replacement of failing parts very difficult.

Governments also suggested applying a similar approach to other products such as washing machines and dishwashers, according to several national representatives consulted by ECOS and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB).

However, the NGOs also called for the rules to be extended to lighting and displays, which will be discussed next week, and to all products in the future. [1]

Chloe Fayole of ECOS commented:

“EU governments refused to cave into pressure and restored ambitious proposals to boost repair and reuse of white goods: this is good news for consumers and the planet. Now it’s urgent that the Member States apply similar and even more ambitious rules to other products used by consumers in their daily lives, notably lighting appliances and televisions and monitors. “

She added:

“Waste from electronics is the fastest growing waste stream in the world. Enabling consumers to repair and reuse all electronic products is a must and will help save millions of tons of natural resources and greenhouse gas emissions while saving consumers money.”

The decision comes after the two NGOs denounced strong pressure from industry lobby groups, which prompted the European Commission to water down the proposals on repairability in favour of recyclability. See link below:

Alongside the ease of disassembly, EU governments agreed to make spare parts such as door gaskets for fridges available to all for a number of years. Only certain spare parts will be made available exclusively to professional repairers who must meet several criteria defined at a national level.

While welcoming the decision, the NGOs called on regulators to make as many spare parts and repair information as possible available to all, i.e. consumers, community repairers, repair cafés and others. Limiting the availability of spare parts and information is equivalent to limiting the availability of repair services, they said.

They also insisted that lighting and displays shall not be exempted from similar rules. Many lamps sold in Europe come with individual light bulbs that cannot be replaced. This means that when one light bulb stops working, consumers are forced to replace the whole lamp, therefore generating more waste. Display repairs are also nearly impossible today due to glued and welded components, while no spare parts and replacement information is made available

[1] Dates when EU governments are expected to vote:
December 2018

Monday 10 – Fridges review
Monday 17 – Lighting review
Wednesday 19 – Electronic displays
January 2019

Tuesday 8 – Dishwashers review
Thursday 10 – Washing machines review
In March 2019, the European Parliament will formally approve the decisions made by the Member States. This could set an important precedent for more products to be scrutinised in the near future.

Note: Of course if the UK chooses to leave the EU we do not know if this legislation will apply to the UK market but, it will probably trickle to products sold in the UK if it applies to the entire EU market.

" Only certain spare parts will be made available exclusively to professional repairers who must meet several criteria defined at a national level "
What the hell does this mean? Does it mean replacing one kind of cartel with a repair only cartel or what? Does it mean a registered repairer system = a licencing system = a closed shop on repairs. Does that therefore mean free market to repairing is not a free market at all?

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