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Industry News

Published on January 17th, 2019 | by The GC Team

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ESF urges caution on EU “right to repair” initiative

Electrical Safety First is encouraging manufacturers to support a network of authorised repairers in the light of proposed EU legislation making electrical products longer lasting and easier to repair.

The proposals are part of plans to reduce the environmental impact of products and come under the EU Ecodesign Directive.

The bloc’s 28 Member States have already agreed on a new set of manufacturing laws regarding cooling products, despite opposition from manufacturers and hesitation from the European Commission, and the intention is to extend the “right to repair” to other industry categories.

Waste from electronics is the fastest growing waste stream in the world.

But Phil Buckle, Chief Executive of Electrical Safety First, says “right to repair” is not quite as simple as it might seem and has the potential to raise safety issues. His viewpoint indicates that the initiative may be difficult to police.

“There are a number of products which are not designed to be ‘user-serviced’ and it’s particularly difficult obtaining parts for many tech products, as the manufacturer often retains stock for in-house repairs only. But for many people now carrying their life in their mobile phone, for example, waiting a month for a repair via the manufacturer is inconceivable. Instead, they are likely to take the faster, cheaper option by using an unauthorised repair shop, which often use non-approved parts. Alternatively, consumers might buy a component online to undertake the repair themselves.

“However, these components can often be substandard, untested and potentially dangerous. And using a high street repairer is equally problematic. Without the technical expertise, equipment or experience, it is not surprising that complex repairs can be counter-productive, often creating further safety issues.” 

Electrical Safety First says it has been raising this issue with manufacturers for some time now and, as well as encouraging them to support a network of authorised repairers, the charity wants them to consider, when it makes economic and environmental sense, making products more accessible to self-maintenance.

“This would, we believe, provide consumers with a repair solution that meets their needs,” said Buckle.

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