Commission proposes EU-wide repair index

The European Commission has published draft proposals for ecodesign and energy labelling regulations on smartphones and tablets. If agreed, they will establish a repair index and the first-ever EU-wide energy label for these devices.
Photo: Wilfried Pohnke auf Pixabay

The Commission draft proposals for new ecodesign and energy labelling regulations on smartphones and tablets contain encouraging requirements. Draft proposals are now open for public feedback. A new repair score, inspired by the one France put in place in 2020, will be the most visible novelty for consumers.

The repair score will not be the only information included in the new label for all smartphones and tablets. It will also inform consumers on battery endurance, resistance to accidental drops, and protection against dust and water. The new label can be a game changer and drive consumers towards the most sustainable products.

The new regulations will also impose promising design criteria that all phones on the EU market will be required to meet including:

  • Obligation for manufacturers and retailers to provide information on the price of spare parts
  • Strong reliability requirements, such as enduring to be dropped up to 100 times without loss of functionality
  • Possibility for users to safely erase data and confidently donate devices to refurbishers and other reuse operators

Room to upgrade

Although generally encouraging, the proposals should still be significantly improved. The availability and replaceability of certain spare parts set unnecessary limits for do-it-yourself repairers. The Ecodesign proposal opposes repairability to reliability. Manufacturers will have the choice to provide durable batteries (lasting for more than 1000 charge cycles) OR make batteries available as spare parts to end-users. ECOS believes that consumers deserve both as a minimum, and not one or the other as currently suggested.

Sadly, the Commission also lacks ambition in other aspects. It obliges manufacturers to provide spare parts and software updates for only 5 years, rather than longer. In addition, mobile phones and tablets with flexible displays are exempted from these obligations. As a result, such devices might become the norm for manufacturers willing to ignore the design requirements imposed by the EU.

Combined, EU smartphones represent more than the annual carbon budget of Latvia. Mathieu Rama, Programme Manager, Environmental Coalition on Standards (ECOS): “The repair index and the new energy label will be game changers for the mobile phone and tablet markets, making durability a decisive criterion when buying a device. It will be comparable across models, just like their price or features. Today’s proposal could mark the end of the era of disposable devices. Let’s just make sure that we tie up all the loose ends – consumers deserve both repairability and reliability, which should go hand in hand.”


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