Remember when household appliances like fridges, dish washers, dryers and ovens were built to last?
There was once a time when appliances were kept in the family for decades, but over the past 20 years the quality and durability of many products on the market has noticeably declined.
Household appliances that once lasted up to 20 years now often break or fall apart after just five years of use. What’s more, repairing these products has become even more difficult with many manufacturers making it so products can only be repaired in their specialty stores rather than at home or at local repair shops.
Consequently, we have become more of a throwaway society, with people more willing to purchase cheaper appliances more often rather than fork out for something that will last decades.
Now though, new legislation is being floated around the UK and Europe that would force manufacturers to make high-quality products that are easy to repair when they break.
The legislation is being spearheaded by repair rights groups and a number of European environment ministers, who say changing the rules would reduce the amount of waste being dumped around the planet.
Electronic waste is one of the most rapidly growing parts of the waste stream, Nathan Proctor, director of the Right to Repair campaign told PRI. According to the United Nations University the amount of e-waste is expected to grow to 52.2 tons globally by 2021.
Libby Peak from think tank Green Alliance told BBC News: “The new rules are a definite improvement. We think they could have been better, but it’s good news that at last politicians are waking up to an issue that the public have recognised as a problem for a long time. The new rules will benefit the environment and save resources.”
It comes after several states in the US introduced Right to Repair legislation that forced companies like Apple and Samsung to make the tools, parts, and manuals needed for repairs available to independent repair shops. However, Apple, Toyota and others have lobbied against the laws, saying that letting third parties repair their products poses a security risk to users.
As reported by BBC News, the proposed legislation in the UK and Europe wants products that can be fully dissembled and repaired with spare parts and advice supplied by the manufacturer.
The European proposals refer to lighting, televisions and large home appliances. The European Environmental Bureau also want other products like smart phones and printers included in the legislation.
Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey told BBC News: “We are supporting measures in the new Ecodesign Directive product regulations to encourage repair and re-use of a range of products.”