Brussels, 22 March 2023 - The long-awaited Right to Repair initiative put forth today by the European Commission is the missing piece of the jigsaw to a consistent legislative framework for consumers and manufacturers, as Europe strives to reach its Green Deal objectives.
According to a Eurobarometer survey, 77% of EU consumers would rather repair their goods than buy new ones. Promoting repair allows extending the useful lifespan of products, in full coherence with Europe’s sustainability objectives benefiting both the environment and the consumer's wallet. For the home appliance industry, this is already the reality today. According to data collected from the APPLiA membership, “81% of the requests to manufacturers for a repair of a product resulted in an actual repair in 2016, which then increased up to 91% in 2018,” explained Paolo Falcioni, APPLiA Director General.
Making repair the primary remedy will contribute to reducing e-waste and create new EU jobs in the repair sector. Often in the past, replacement solutions were offered without considering repair first. Here, the EU’s proposed Right to Repair marks a step in the right direction with a clear hierarchy of remedies. In line with the Commission initiative, “repair should be promoted whenever economically viable,” said Candice Richaud, APPLiA Senior Corporate Policy Manager, and consumers incentivised to choose it over replacement by giving them “the guarantee that the product would be brought back into conformity in a timely and qualitative manner.”
When repair is not the optimal option, replacing a defective product with a refurbished one should be considered. Refurbishment is an increasing business model that presents many advantages in terms of sustainability. Although not a remedy per se under the current consumer rules, “the replacement of products with refurbished ones, should be promoted as a remedy in between repair and replacement with a new good,” explained Richaud. This would not only be in line with a sustainable consumption of goods but also significantly contribute to move toward a fully circular economy, keeping the rising amounts of e-waste under control and valuable resources in the loop.
From right to repair to repair it right. At a time when claims for self-repair are on the rise, preserving the safety of the home and the people who live in it, remains a key priority for the industry. Not all repairs can be carried out safely and successfully by consumers themselves, as they could compromise a device’s integrity or functionality. Especially for highly complex devices, professional skills and related liability insurance are key to make sure the consumer is not deprived of any right in case the repair goes wrong. Consumers not only have a right to repair, but most importantly a right to have their products repaired right. If an appliance is not properly repaired, safety within the home could be compromised.
Novelty to the legislation is the obligation to repair. Manufacturers will be required to provide repair options for consumers once the applying legal guarantee expires. Building on its long-standing experience in Ecodesign, the industry is invested in educational programmes training younger generations in professional home appliance repair. Particularly, APPLiA Hungary runs repair courses in partnership with local schools. Similar initiatives were also undertaken by other organisations within APPLiA’s network including APPLiA Slovakia, APPLiA CZ and APPLiA Polska who launched their own repair programmes, at the national level.
The right to repair is a cornerstone of the EU’s plan to achieve a circular economy by 2050 as part of the European Green Deal.