Brussels — Rreuse has published a joint manifesto calling for legislation that ensures new products sold in Europe are made more durable and easy to repair. Rreuse will work together with the co-signatories, including IFIXIT, Repair Café International, FoEE, the EEB, ZWE and ECOS, to achieve the aims outlined in the manifesto. The groups are also keen to encourage other organisations that also share this vision to join them.
According to the manifesto, usable products and device components are scrapped at an alarming rate instead of being salvaged, fixed, and reused. By 2050, global level of consumption of minerals, fossil fuels and biomass will reach 140 billion tonnes, over double the current amount. Products must be durable, easy and affordable to repair, and information on these aspects clearly available to consumers. Half the respondents to a recent EU survey said they decided against repairing a faulty product in the past 12 months because repair costs were too high. 92 percent agreed that the lifespan of products available on the market should be indicated3.
As one of the fastest growing sectors, electric and electronic products are the first candidates for increased repair and longevity – but the principles could equally be applied to textiles, furniture and other products. Legal changes and economic incentives are needed to promote product durability and repair, requiring a coordinated approach with all stakeholders – including policy makers, manufacturers, consumers, reuse organisations, recyclers and environmental NGOs.
As the paper states, there are several relevant EU policy tools to build on. A move towards a truly circular economy requires a horizontal approach across different policy areas. Designing products for ease of repair, together with any relevant information requirements for re-use operators can be tackled through the Ecodesign, WEEE and Batteries Directives. For other products, such as textiles and furniture, design requirements could be addressed within the framework of the EU circular economy package and related waste policies. Whilst information for consumers on product longevity and warranties could also be tackled in the aforementioned Directives, the Consumer Rights and Energy Labelling
Directives could also have a major role to play. Regulations in the automotive sector such as the Massachusetts Right to Repair Law and the EU Regulation of motor vehicles and engines provide a source of inspiration which have addressed a number of these issues already. Finally, making repair cheaper could be tackled through innovative use of the VAT Directive through reduced VAT on repair activities.
The full manifesto can be downloaded from rreuse.org.