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New European Commission measures require repair and recycling of electronics

The European Commission has adopted new eco-design measures that require electronic appliances to be repaired and recycled – in line with circular economy objectives.

In an effort to reduce Europe’s carbon footprint and to make energy bills cheaper for European consumers, the eco-design measures target products such as refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers and televisions.

Improving the life span, maintenance, re-use, upgrade, recyclability and waste handling of these appliances, contributes to implementing the ‘energy efficiency first’ principle of the EU’s Energy Union priority.

In a statement on October 1, Monique Goyens, director general of BEUC, the European Consumer Association, said the new repair requirements will help improve the lifetime of everyday appliances that currently fail too quickly.

“It is crucial we bin the current ‘throwaway’ trend, which depletes natural resources and empties consumers’ pockets. It is excellent news that consumers’ health will be better protected, thanks to fewer flickering light bulbs and the removal of harmful flame retardants in TV screens.

“The EU has started with five products that most consumers own at home and we strongly encourage legislators to make more product categories repairable,” Goyens said.

European Commission vice-president for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness Jyrki Katainen said whether it is by fostering repairability or improving water consumption, intelligent eco-design makes people use resources more efficiently – bringing clear economic and environmental benefits.

“Figures speak for themselves – these measures can save European households on average €150 per year and contribute to energy savings equal to annual energy consumption of Denmark by 2030.

“It is with concrete steps such as these that Europe as a whole is embracing the circular economy to the benefit of citizens, our environment and European businesses,” Katainen said.

Paolo Falcioni, director general of APPLiA, the European home industry appliance association, said the new requirements on improving resource efficiency are a tool to ensure that all actors play by the same rules and advance a “circular culture” concept.

“Provided that market surveillance authorities could have enough resources and coordination to face new difficulties in verifying the compliance with the law,” Falcioni said.

The regulations focus on refrigerators; washing machines; dishwashers; electronic displays (including televisions); light sources and separate control gears; external power supplies; electric motors; refrigerators with a direct sales function (for example fridges in supermarkets, vending machines for cold drinks); power transformers; and welding equipment.