Experts have assessed the climate benefits of making Europe’s smartphones, notebooks, washing machines and vacuum cleaners more durable. 
The report was published today by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) on behalf of the Coolproducts and Right to Repair campaigns. 
The study found that extending the lifetime of the EU’s stock of these products by five years would save almost 10 million tonnes of emissions (CO2eq) annually by 2030. This is equivalent to taking 5 million cars off the roads for a year, roughly the number of cars registered in Belgium. Even just a one-year extension would result in 4 million tonnes of emissions savings annually, equivalent to taking all Danish cars (2 million) off the roads.
These high figures are due to the vast amounts of energy and resources involved in producing and distributing new products as well as disposing of old ones.
The climate impact of the so-called non-use phases is often overlooked in product policy, with legislation so far focusing on reducing the energy needed to power them rather than on their production. Those embedded emissions continue to be overlooked, despite one study concluding that if they were accounted for in goods imported to Europe, the EU would not have achieved any emissions reductions since 1990. 
The study coincides with the growth of the Right to Repair movement in Europe,  which aims to counter planned obsolescence – the practice whereby products are poorly designed, impossible or too expensive to repair, and are prematurely replaced.
While it is hard to assess whether companies are purposely shortening the lifespans of electronics, the proportion of defective devices being replaced by consumers grew from 3.5% in 2004 to 8.3% in 2012. 
Jean-Pierre Schweitzer, Policy Officer for the Circular Economy at the EEB, said:
This study is further proof that Europe can’t meet its climate obligations without addressing our production and consumption patterns.
The climate impact of our disposable smartphone culture is far too high. We can’t afford to keep replacing them every few years. We need products that last longer and can be repaired if they break
As public support for longer lasting products and climate action grows, we have an opportunity to radically rethink the way our products are designed and produced. The EU can be a leader on this front, having already pioneered some ground-breaking laws forcing manufacturers to make certain products more easily repairable.
 The Coolproducts campaign works to ensure product policy benefits people and the planet. It’s led by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and ECOS, two prominent Brussels-based NGOs. The Right to Repair coalition brings together policy experts, repair activists and consumer groups to promote repairable products and access to repair information.
Mauro Anastasio, Communications officer - Circular Economy and Climate Change, European Environmental Bureau