EU “Right to Repair” Plan Tackles Source of E-Waste

Pile of no longer needed cell phones for recycling

Image: UW Recycling

Consumers in the European Union will soon have the ability to have better access to more sustainable electronics. Under a new initiative unveiled by the European Commission, consumers will have an automatic right to have their devices repaired rather than throw them away under a new initiative unveiled by the European Commission today.

As Forbes reported, the Circular Economy Action Plan, designed to end the ‘throw-away society’ and encourage reuse and recycling, contains provisions to ensure consumers have access to reliable information on issues such as the reparability and durability of products to help them make environmentally sustainable choices. It’s hoped that the new action plan will both reduce waste and lower carbon emissions.

The Goals: As Slash Gear explained, The Circular Economy Action Plan tackles the issue of software updates to avoid premature obsolescence.

  • In theory, this would at least enforce OEMs to ship phones in the region to be upgradable long after their support period expires. Meaning, they should have unlocked or unlockable bootloaders at the very least.

Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, said:

“To achieve climate-neutrality by 2050, to preserve our natural environment, and to strengthen our economic competitiveness, requires a fully circular economy. Today, our economy is still mostly linear, with only 12% of secondary materials and resources being brought back into the economy.”

Additionally, one of the goals of the plan is to ensure less waste. The focus will be on avoiding waste altogether and transforming it into high-quality secondary resources that benefit from a well-functioning market for secondary raw materials.

Why This Matters: The European Union is way ahead of the United States in mandating e-waste recycling, so there are certainly lessons we can learn here. Mostly because e-waste has become the world’s fastest-growing trash stream and mining for the metals and minerals required to make new electronics is quite detrimental for the planet. There’s really no real reason why we need a new iPhone every year–in 2018 1.5 billion cellphones were manufactured and many of them wind up in land up in landfills where they can leak toxins. Ensuring that consumers can purchase electronics capable of software upgrades is a policy measure that should be adopted on a global scale.

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