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APPLiA’s Paolo Falcioni on product repairability at TV show Patti Chiari

Latest News 18 Mar 2024

On 15 March, APPLiA Director General Paolo Falcioni was invited to share the industry’s views on product’s repair and repairability  at TV-show Patti Chiari, aired by RSI - Swiss Radio and Television. The discussion featured insights from various stakeholders, including Angelica Jäggli from the Swiss Alliance of Consumer Organisation (ACSI) and Anne Christine Fornage, president of the Federal Commission for Consumer Affairs in Switzerland. 

Often in the past, replacement solutions were offered without considering repair first. Here, Europe’s most recent Right to Repair initiative marks a step in the right direction making it easier for consumers to choose repair over replacement. According to the agreed text, consumers opting for repair over replacement, would obtain a one-year extension of the legal guarantee. This will allow extending the useful lifespan of products, benefiting both the environment and the consumer's wallet. However, for the home appliance industry, repair is already a long-standing reality. According to data collected from the APPLiA membership, “91% of the requests to manufacturers for a repair of a product resulted in an actual repair already in 2018,” explained Falcioni, underscoring the commitment of the sector in fostering repair and enhancing consumers rights. Despite the growing recognition of the importance of repair, a significant challenge persists: the cost associated with it. While products are repairable, the financial barrier often prevents consumers from pursuing this option.

“Transparency to consumers is essential in addressing the issue of repair cost. Nearly 50% of the cost is linked to the work behind the repair, which could be equally divided into cost of spare parts, labour cost and logistics - for a market that involves around 32 000 workers, directly and indirectly. ” added Falcioni. However, the issue remains. One possible solution in this sense - he highlighted - could be for Member States to “adjust the so-called Value Added Tax (VAT) so as to create an incentive for repair.”

Since January 1st 2021, France has been the first country in Europe to have implemented a repairability index on five categories of electronic devices including washing machines, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, smartphones, TVs, high-pressure cleaners, and lawn mowers. Other Member States, such as Belgium, have also introduced a national repairability index. 

While the index could possibly be helpful in guiding consumers through their purchase decisions, the implementation of different measures at the national level risks obstructing the free circulation of goods in the Single Market and places a burden on both manufacturers and consumers. 

Addressing concerns regarding the rise of multiple  repairability index across Europe, Falcioni advocated for a standardised solution at EU level. “The lack of harmonisation can confuse consumers and interfere in decision-making,” Falcioni commented. “A European repairability index, equally applicable across Member States, would ensure that consumers  have access to the same information in a clear and easy manner,  and it would also encourage manufacturers to continue improving the repairability of their products.” 

The implementation of a  standardised European repairability index would not only extend the lifespan of products but also foster a culture of sustainability.

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