Measures to extend the lifetime of products should be compulsory not voluntary

High angle view of handyman checking washing machine at home

EU circular economy policies should aim to extend the lifetime of products, the availability of repair services and spare parts, and improve consumer information and rights. These measures need to be binding on producers and not voluntary, say policy experts at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB).

These comments come following the adoption of a weaker-than-expected draft report by the European Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) today. The report outlines proposals on how to improve the durability and reparability of consumer products – from IT gadgets to home appliances – that are placed on the EU market.

But the adopted resolution, unlike the original, more ambitious version put forward by the Green Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Pascal Durand, relies heavily on voluntary measures and lacks clear policy actions to address the premature obsolescence of products.

A longer lifetime for products would help Europe’s transition to a circular economy by reducing the excessive use of natural resources and generating new economic activities.

Carsten Wachholz, Senior Policy Officer on Resource Conservation and Product Policy at the EEB, said:

“MEPs today missed the opportunity to take a firm stance against the avoidable obsolescence of products. Products designed to be thrown away are a nuisance to consumers, lead to an excessive use of natural resources and prevent job creation in the repair sector.”

“The resolution does not require manufactures to disclose information on how long consumers can expect products to last and on the possibility to repair or update them.”

“Beyond the call for harmonised standards, we need binding rules in EU legislation such as the EU Consumer Sales Directive and Ecodesign Directive. Brussels institutions should also look to the Right to Repair Acts that are currently being introduced in several US states.”

Notes to Editors:

Measures proposed include:

  • Designing robust, durable and high-quality products;
  • Promoting reparability and longevity;
  • Developing a usage-oriented economic model, and
  • Ensuring better information on the environmental performance of products.

For more information:

Mauro Anastasio, Communication Officer, European Environmental Bureau

+32 2 274 10 87

Measures to extend the lifetime of products should be compulsory not voluntary
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