Image curtesy by Unsplash – Nikolai Chernichenko
The approval, on February 23, 2021, of a new regulation promoted by the European Union, aimed at promoting the so-called “Right to Repair”, went relatively unnoticed. Instead, it is a very important step forward towards the circular economy: in fact, it promotes an approach to conscious design and consumption, aimed at reducing waste upstream thanks to smart design, and not just recycling at the end of life.
But what is the regulation about, and what does it mean in practice? The text covers ecodesign requirements for electronic products such as servers and data storage units, electric motors, refrigeration appliances, electronic displays, dishwashers, washing machines and washer-dryers, which shall be designed in such a way as to ensure easy repairability, availability of spare parts even in the long term, and the capability of a product to be updated not only in its hardware (by replacing parts and not the whole product) but also in the software, without this entailing significant slowdowns in the performance of the device.
Image curtesy by Unsplash – Insung Yoon
The positive effects are many: extending the life of objects, in fact, leads to less waste, reduces the environmental impact of products, and also involves, in the long term, economic savings for the consumer.
As noted by Altroconsumo, “the idea is to push for the creation of a network of independent technicians who really have an interest in repairing a product, contrary to what has happened so far, for which it is often suggested the product to be replaced rather than repaired due to difficulties in fixing or too high costs.”
Image curtesy by Unsplash – Kumpan Electric
The Regulation follows a resolution of the European Parliament of November 2020, in which the Commission was urged on a series of apparently trivial but substantial circular economy issues to reduce the waste of resources and extend the life of products, from the promotion of sustainable consumer choices and a culture of reuse, to improve repairability, up to the introduction of universal chargers.
Small interventions that, however, can make a difference, introducing not only new production models but also, and above all, a change in mentality and consumption patterns.