• International Workplace
  • 4 October 2019

EU introduces 'right to repair' rules for appliances

On 1 October the European Commission adopted new eco-design measures that will require manufacturers of appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers and televisions to make them easier to repair. The new rules are designed to reduce the EU's carbon footprint and reduce energy bills for consumers and business users alike.

The new measures challenge the principle of 'built in obsolescence', where manufacturers are accused of designing appliances in such a way that make it easier to dispose of them and replace them, rather than to repair them in order to extend their life. 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.

The Commission has adopted 10 ecodesign implementing Regulations, setting out energy efficiency and other requirements for the following product groups: refrigerators; washing machines; dishwashers; electronic displays (including televisions); light sources and separate control gears; external power supplies; electric motors; refrigerators with a direct sales function (e.g. fridges in supermarkets, vending machines for cold drinks); power transformers; and welding equipment.

The Commission estimates that these measures, together with legilsation on energy labelling adopted in March 2019, will deliver 167 TWh of final energy savings per year by 2030. This is equivalent to the annual energy consumption of Denmark and corresponds to a reduction of over 46 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

The new measures require manufacturers to make spare parts for certain appliances available for a minimum period of seven years, with parts availability of 15 days. Where water use is concerned, ecodesign measures for washing machines, washer-dryers, and dishwashers set a maximum use of water per cycle. At the same time, they stipulate a minimum standard for washing efficiency and rinsing effectiveness so that the reduction of water use is not achieved to the detriment of washing and rinsing performance.

The Ecodesign Framework Directive sets a framework requiring manufacturers of energy-related products to improve the environmental performance of their products.