One of the most fundamental elements of a working circular economy is to use an item for as long as possible before it is ditched. This can be anything, from our coats to our washing machines, but when it comes to the latter, it can get rather complicated. Whereas our grandparents seemed to have appliances that went on forever, many of us are faced with replacing ours every few years as they just seem to break – and we find they can’t be repaired. The real sting is that manufacturers currently have no legal obligation to ensure that their goods can carry on working once they are sold. There is no Extended Producer Responsibility, which is why we amass some 1.5 million tonnes of electrical waste in the UK each year.
But things are set to change.
From Summer 2021, UK Ministers have confirmed that the Right to Repair Bill, as developed by the EU and designed to cut material use and cut household bills, will also come into force in the UK. This is the first ever legal right for Repair.
So what does it mean?
- manufacturers will have to extend the ‘expected’ life span of electrical appliances by up to 10 years.
- repair manuals must be available for all appliances.
- manufacturers will have to make spare parts available for appliances – and ensure that older models also remain supported for parts.
One thing to note however, is who will be able to access those spare parts. At present it is unclear if all consumers will be able to purchase items to repair their appliances, or whether only registered technicians will be able to do so. This may, excuse the pun, throw a slight spanner in the works, as Repairing would remain the activity of a few. However. The Right to Repair adoption in the UK is still something to celebrate. Who knows. Maybe we’ll get back to where we were a couple of generations ago and still have our original appliances working 30 years or more after purchase…