Revealed: Europe’s bold plan to kill planned obsolescence

Revealed: Europe’s bold plan to kill planned obsolescence

Posted By Amanda Saxby

Good news Monday! Europe continues its fight against planned obsolescence by approving a resolution to make the EU Commission, member states and producers take action toward improving product repairability.

A recent press release revealed that MEPs voted 662 to 32 to promote longer product lifespans “by tackling programmed obsolescence for tangible goods and for software.” Parliament’s recommendations, among others, included establishing a minimum resistance criteria for every product category from the design stage to encourage robust, easily repairable, good quality products; extending product guarantees to match potential repair times; disallowing a product’s essential components to be affixed to the product; and providing spare parts for the lifetime of the product at a reasonable price.

Although this resolution doesn’t place any requirements into law, this is brilliant news for those of us fighting against planned obsolescence. It demonstrates a desire for change within the European legislative body and gives hope for other nations to follow suit worldwide. “We must reinstate the repairability of all products put on the market,” says Pascal Durand, a member of the Committee for Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the Greens/European Free Alliance. “We need to make sure that consumers are aware of how long the products last and how they can be repaired.”

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Consumer advocacy has been important to BuyMeOnce since our inception. We have long sought to help our customers make informed buying decisions, culminating in our recent petition calling for mandatory longevity labeling. It seems the EU Parliament is thinking along the same lines. Its recommendations also suggest that the Commission consider “a ‘voluntary European label’ covering the product’s durability, eco-design features, upgradeability in line with technical progress and repairability.”

A 2014 poll revealed that 77% of EU consumers would rather repair their goods than buy new, but they are discouraged into throwing away their products due to astronomical repair costs and dismal customer service. This is unacceptable.

As is so often the case, the EU stands at the leading edge of consumer protection. No similar protections exist in Canada or the USA at federal level, nor are they planned. Should the EU recommendations be brought into force across the 27 member states, we will be keenly watching a post-brexit Britain’s movements. As it stands, planned obsolescence is not a mainstream issue in the United Kingdom or the English speaking world as a whole.

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