In the fight against planned obsolescence, the European Parliament wants to set minimum resistance criteria for products and better inform consumers about their durability. The aim is to encourage repair and reduce waste. The good news ? 77% of consumers in the EU would rather fix broken products than buy new ones.
- This goes to the bin. Smartphones, printers, washing machines, dishwashers, coffee makers: most people buy new ones every one to four years. Irreparable and unfashionable, these bots are often thrown out, creating tons of waste that is hard to recycle. The European Parliament is taking a closer look at products' lifecycles, with one aim: to reduce waste, be it of energy or raw materials. In general, I change phones every 2 years. Two and a half, three years. The last time I changed phones was a year and a half ago. Shattered screens, burnt-out batteries... smartphones are at the top of the list of appliances with the shortest lives. Whether in Finland, Germany or the Netherlands, entrepreneurs are searching for solutions. This particular company invented a modular phone. Each part can be repaired or replaced. For the screen, you really don't need any tools. And with a normal screwdriver, you can unscrew all the elements of the phone. And if anything should break, you can repair it entirely yourself. Richard Golder mends 5 machines a day in his workshop in Strasbourg. Household staples like hoovers, irons and microwaves all get a second lease of life here, like this blender bought more than 25 years ago. - It should work again now for another 10 years. When you buy quality products, there is no planned obsolescence. The wiring is good and resistant. When you buy what's cheapest, it's not made with long-lasting parts. They only last a certain time, that's all. MEPs want to set minimum resistance criteria to lengthen the lifecycles of products. But repairing is not always possible. That's what this consumer watchdog in Brussels is worried about. Often parts are glued together so tightly they need to be broken in order to be repaired. It's impossible to mend them. Or the broken component is part of a larger whole and so you have to change the entirety, it's impossible to fix the part separately. And getting something repaired today is prohibitively expensive. Parliament wants to encourage restorable products. One suggested measure would be to ban all parts that cannot be removed. Lawmakers also want consumers to be better informed about a product's likely lifecycle. If a consumer sees a product that is 30 to 40 % cheaper and seems to perform just as well, if he doesn't know about that the product's lifecycle, like the fact that the machine will break down after two years, instead of ten, then obviously he will choose the cheaper product. Quality is what this Swedish apartment block is all about. An important distinction being that Elin Branchereau does not own her washing machine. She shares it with her neighbors. The advantage of having a shared washing room is you don't need to have a private washing machine at home and have more room at home for other things instead. When you have a machine here you have very high quality machines and if there's a problem they fix it directly and you don't have to deal with anything yourself. A circular economy model is what European lawmakers seek to promote. An economy centered on product use is extremely important: it's a real shift in how we think about things. It's saying: we no longer need to own everything, let's try to share. More and more consumers are keen on this kind of behavior. Carsharing is increasingly popular. We've seen all kinds of sharing platforms crop up, like for power tools. If you have a drill at home today, you use it roughly 7 minutes a year. So do you really need to own one? According to the 2014 Eurobarometer, 77% of consumers in the EU would rather repair their products rather than buy new ones. 92% want to be better informed about how long what they buy will last. It's good for employment and the industry because their brand will gain in value, it's good for consumers because they will have more information, it's good for the repair industry, which can grow and create more jobs and obviously it's good for resources and raw materials because we'll curb waste.