The time is right to ensure products placed on the market are designed to last and be repaired. We demand an end to the “throwaway” culture.
Every day we buy products that are designed to break. It has become increasingly difficult and expensive to repair our electronic gadgets and replace key parts like a cracked screen or a weak battery.
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.
The current situation is unsustainable. But we have an opportunity to rethink the way our products are designed and to reclaim our right to repair. As part of a European campaign for the Right to Repair, we demand easy access to repair information, spare parts and repair tools. We want a better product design that makes repair possible at a reasonable price.
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 and durable.
The climate benefits of reducing our production and consumption patterns are clear. Our study found that extending the lifetime of all the smartphones, notebooks, washing machines and vacuum cleaners in the EU by five years would save almost 10 million tonnes of emissions (CO2 equivalent) a year. 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 per year.
In a disposable society, to repair is to rebel.
Facts and figures
The proportion of defective devices being replaced by consumers grew from 3.5% in 2004 to 8.3% in 2012 (source)
This may be costing German consumers €110 a month per person (source)
Extending the lifespan of smartphones and other electronics by five years would save almost 10 million tonnes of emissions (CO2 equivalent) a year. This is equivalent to taking 5 million cars off the roads every year (source)
Electronic waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world (source)
Only 35% of electronic waste in the EU is collected and treated properly (source)