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New EU rules will make appliances stronger and greener

By Julian Shea in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-10-02 16:48

Environmental campaigners have given a warm welcome to the announcement that new household appliance repair rules are to be introduced across the European Union, making machines longer-lasting, considerably reducing their environmental impact and energy consumption.

Under the new laws which will come into force in April 2021, companies will have to make all fridges, freezers, washing machines, washer-dryers, dishwashers, lighting products, monitors and televisions sold in the EU more robust and longer-lasting, and they will also have to supply spare parts for machines for up to 10 years.

In addition, the removal of halogenated flame retardants and design changes will also make products easier to recycle.

The legislation has been introduced because of consumer complaints about how often machines break down just after warranty expires, and the difficulty of finding spare parts, meaning replacement machines have to be bought.

"From the United States to Europe, people are demanding their right to repair things they own because they're tired of products that are designed to break prematurely," said Chloe Fayole, of environment group Ecos.

Libby Peake from the UK Green alliance told BBC News: "These new standards are a massive step in the right direction and could result in nearly 50 million tones of CO2 emissions savings."

In many US states, right to repair legislation is already being drafted, but some consumer groups say the new European proposals do not go far enough, as consumers are still prevented from carrying out repairs themselves.

Manufacturers have defended this by saying relaxing controls on machine maintenance and repairs could raise questions over subsequent legal liability.

"This is the kind of innovation that we all need right now," said Stephane Arditi of the European Environment Bureau.

"Energy efficiency laws have already cut our energy bills and will continue to do so. Now, by also ensuring we get to use our products for longer, Europe can deliver further savings for people while cutting carbon emissions and waste.

"When repair activities stay in the hands of a few firms, we're missing an opportunity to make it more affordable and readily available. Small independent repairers can make a great contribution to the economy and our society. We need to help them do their job."

If and when Brexit happens, British companies hoping to sell their products in EU countries would have to abide by the new rules.

The new repair measures, removing uneconomical devices from the marketplace, are part of the EU's Ecodesign directive.

The new standards, together with new energy label measures adopted earlier this year, are part of an energy efficiency program which it is estimated will lead to a 5 percent reduction in electricity consumption across the EU by 2030, and a 20 billion euros ($21.7 billion) cut to annual energy bills.

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