France to introduce repairability rating index on electrical and electronic goods

France is set to introduce a repairability rating index for electrical and electronic equipment in an attempt to stop throwaway culture and to make consumers aware of the environmental impact of products they buy.

Under the French Government’s plans, products such as smartphones and electronic and household appliances will have a new sticker on their packaging, indicating how long their estimated “life” will be.

The new stickers, which will appear alongside the products’ energy rating, will allow consumers to see how environmentally friendly a product is, as well as the how robust it is, and how easy it will be to fix should it break down unexpectedly. On a scale of 1-10, the stickers will identify the durability of the product and its repairability.

It is understood that the repair rating, which is expected to come into effect from 1 January 2021, will be compulsory for smartphones, televisions, laptop computers, front-loading washing machines and lawn mowers.

The repairability rating sets out to tackle the issue of “planned obsolescence” in technology products, whereby manufacturers design an existing version of a product to become ‘dated or useless’ within a given time frame.

Products such as smartphones, televisions, washing machines and vacuum cleaners all are used on average for shorter periods than both their designed and desired lifetimes, according to a recent European Environment Agency (EEA) briefing.

Extending the lifetime and delaying obsolescence of electronics can significantly reduce their environmental and climate impacts and contribute to meeting the European Union’s (EU) environment, climate and circular economy objectives, according to the EEA.

According to France’s Environment Minister, Barbara Pompii, the list of electrical and electronic products will be expanded and the ‘repair’ label will become a ‘durability rating’ in 2024.

The plan also intends to create QR codes, allowing consumers to compare labels, to see how much the product in question – including its manufacturing process – impacts the environment.

A network of electronic device repair workshops, that would offer repair packages, is also planned.

Around 60% of personal electronics and household appliances are thrown away or recycled when they break down because of the difficulty around repairing items.

The French Government aims to reduce that to 40% within three years as part of its push to develop a “circular” consumer economy over the “linear” model of “take-make-use-discard”.

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living.

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