Circular economy: still a long way to go

By Christian BlockLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

Repairing instead of throwing away: Thanks to heightened environmental awareness and initiatives such as repair cafés, this principle is finding more and more supporters. Politicians are also providing impulses and hold manufacturers accountable - albeit slowly and not always consistently. A survey.

The hairdryer doesn't work anymore, the washing machine makes strange noises and the mobile phone battery used to be more powerful. The warranty has expired or cannot be claimed? What could be more obvious than having your household appliance repaired or changing the battery yourself? Consumers know that in practice this is not always possible or attractive in terms of price. For a variety of reasons. But things are moving.

Since March of this year, manufacturers of new refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, monitors, televisions or lighting equipment put on the EU market have to guarantee the availability of certain spare parts for up to ten years. Not only that: the products must also be designed in such a way that components can be taken apart with conventional tools and repair instructions are provided. The maximum delivery period for spare parts is set at 15 days from order. The adjustments to the so-called Ecodesign Directive are intended to extend the life of products. The use of resources for production and transport should thus be worthwhile for longer.

It is a step that could be followed by others in the future. In a resolution in November 2020, the European Parliament called on the European Commission to grant consumers the right to repair. In February of this year, the Parliament added a package. Especially for household appliances and consumer electronics, manufacturers should improve the lifespan of their products or mobile phones should be designed in such a way that batteries or even the camera can be easily replaced. The Parliament also promoted a digital product passport that informs consumers about the lifespan and reparability. The demand for standardised charging cables was reiterated. In the future, these would not necessarily have to be included in every product – this would also reduce the amount of electronic waste.

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Circular economy: still a long way to go

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