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European Union announces plans for ‘right to repair’ rule for phones, tabs, laptops by 2021

The ‘right to repair’ rule is a part of EU’s bigger plan to become climate neutral by 2050 and will make devices remain useful for longer before being recycled or thrown away

The European Commission (EU) has announced plans for a new ‘right to repair’ rule that should cover phones, laptops and tablets by 2021. If brought into force, it will mean that these devices should remain useful for longer before they need to be recycled or become e-waste in landfills.
The European Commission (EU) has announced plans for a new ‘right to repair’ rule that should cover phones, laptops and tablets by 2021. If brought into force, it will mean that these devices should remain useful for longer before they need to be recycled or become e-waste in landfills. (Pixabay)

The European Commission (EU) has announced plans for a new 'right to repair' rule that should cover phones, laptops and tablets by 2021. If brought into force, it will mean that these devices should remain useful for longer before they need to be recycled or become e-waste in landfills.

This plan is being considered as a part of a bigger set of product initiatives that also covers textiles, packaging, plastics and food. The ultimate aim is to help EU become climate neutral by 2050.

The 'right to repair' rules is EU's way of wanting more products which are sustainably designed. Under the new plan, products should be more upgradable, durable, reusable and made from recycled materials. EU hopes to reward manufacturers who achieve these goals and are also considering introducing schemes that will let consumers sell/return old phone, tablets, chargers and laptops more easily.

EU introduced these 'right to repair' rules for household appliances like TVS and washing machines last year. They now want to expand it to cover more products, especially consumer electronics, and bring them under eco-design laws. According to reports, less than 40% of these are recycled in the EU.

There are ample questions about how many of these initiatives will actually work, also EU's official announcement does not address them directly. For example, there is no clarity about whether companies will be forced to allow customers to repair their own devices or will they be made to come to them directly?

The legislation is still in its early stages and will need the approval of EU member states and the Parliament to become a law.

Also Read: EU lawmakers respond to Apple; still want a common charger for iPhones

Along with working on making devices easier to repair, the European Parliament has also recently voted for the commission to introduce a "common phone charger across all devices". They are hoping this will lead to less e-waste if consumers can use their existing chargers across devices - something that Apple has refused to do.