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Consumers and repair of products

17-09-2019

Repairing broken or damaged products can save consumers money by helping them postpone making replacement purchases, while also bringing benefits to the environment through lower waste production and use of resources. The EU's circular economy strategy considers maintenance and repair to be important ways of both keeping resources from being thrown away and of prolonging the lifespan of products. A 2018 European Commission behavioural study on consumer engagement in the circular economy showed that ...

Repairing broken or damaged products can save consumers money by helping them postpone making replacement purchases, while also bringing benefits to the environment through lower waste production and use of resources. The EU's circular economy strategy considers maintenance and repair to be important ways of both keeping resources from being thrown away and of prolonging the lifespan of products. A 2018 European Commission behavioural study on consumer engagement in the circular economy showed that 64 % of consumers always repair broken or damaged products. The top reason for not repairing products was the high price of repair, followed by the preference to get a new product and the feeling that the old product was obsolete or out of fashion. As for repairers, especially independent ones, they often complain about having no access to original spare parts, technical information, diagnostic software and training, as manufacturers sometimes limit these to their own after-sales services or to recognised repairers of a specific brand. EU consumer legislation regulates the right of consumers to have products repaired within the legal guarantee period, but not beyond its expiry or for defects not covered by the guarantee. Efforts to ensure access to repair are also included in EU environmental and product legislation. The upcoming ecodesign requirements for TV screens, refrigerators, lighting, household washing machines and dishwashers are expected to ensure that independent repairers have access to spare parts and repair information. The European Parliament has called for extending the ecodesign requirements to non-energy related products, including the reparability of products, more systematically in ecodesign legislation, and extending the duration of legal guarantees. Similar calls have come from a range of stakeholders.

Longer Lifetime for Products: Benefits for Consumers and Companies

28-06-2016

The report provides an evaluation of the potential impact of a longer lifetime for products in Europe on the economy, on society and on the environment. It provides case studies of existing businesses, the (non-)legal context for an initiative on longer product lifetimes, and a wide range of policy options to optimize benefits to society A minimal increase of 1% of value added by economic activities related to a longer lifetime for products would have an aggregated effect of 7.9 billion EUR per year ...

The report provides an evaluation of the potential impact of a longer lifetime for products in Europe on the economy, on society and on the environment. It provides case studies of existing businesses, the (non-)legal context for an initiative on longer product lifetimes, and a wide range of policy options to optimize benefits to society A minimal increase of 1% of value added by economic activities related to a longer lifetime for products would have an aggregated effect of 7.9 billion EUR per year across the European economy. This document was prepared by Policy Department A at the request of the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection.

Parlamendiväline autor

Carlos Montalvo (TNO), David Peck (Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands) and Elmer Rietveld (TNO)

Planned obsolescence: Exploring the issue

02-05-2016

Although no overarching definition of planned obsolescence exists, the term 'planned obsolescence' (of products or technology) is described as the intentional production of goods and services with short economic lives, stimulating consumers to repeat purchases too frequently. The incandescent light bulb with an engineered shorter lifespan (the Phoebus cartel case) is one example from the past of proven planned obsolescence. Data suggest that the median lifespans of certain categories of product have ...

Although no overarching definition of planned obsolescence exists, the term 'planned obsolescence' (of products or technology) is described as the intentional production of goods and services with short economic lives, stimulating consumers to repeat purchases too frequently. The incandescent light bulb with an engineered shorter lifespan (the Phoebus cartel case) is one example from the past of proven planned obsolescence. Data suggest that the median lifespans of certain categories of product have been shortening, and consumer organisations have drawn attention to more recent suspected cases of planned obsolescence in connection with washing machines, inkjet cartridges, electronic devices, etc. One Member State – France – recently introduced a definition of planned obsolescence into its legislation, making it a punishable offence. No specific EU rules mention planned obsolescence, but the subject ties in with EU legislation on ecodesign, waste, use of natural resources, consumer information and the new package from the European Commission on the circular economy. The main consumer concerns and problematic strategies associated with the issue are: design features that do not allow repair, upgradability or interoperability with other devices; the unavailability of spare parts and high repair costs; and marketing strategies pushing consumers to buy new, fashionable products and replace existing ones very quickly. Various ways to curb the practice of planned obsolescence have been proposed, not least a shift towards a culture that values product durability and sustainability.

EYE 2016 – 360° strategy: Moving things around in a circle

28-04-2016

Unlike a traditional linear economy based on a 'take-make-consume-throw away' pattern, a circular economy is based on sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling in an almost closed loop. Moving towards a circular economy could deliver benefits but also poses challenges. In 2015, the European Commission presented a circular economy package seeking to enable a transition to this new model, in particular by updating EU waste policy. This note has been prepared for the European ...

Unlike a traditional linear economy based on a 'take-make-consume-throw away' pattern, a circular economy is based on sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling in an almost closed loop. Moving towards a circular economy could deliver benefits but also poses challenges. In 2015, the European Commission presented a circular economy package seeking to enable a transition to this new model, in particular by updating EU waste policy. This note has been prepared for the European Youth Event, taking place in Strasbourg in May 2016. Please click here for the full publication in PDF format

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