On 24 October, a group of Right to Repair advocates, including R2REurope, RREUSE, ECOS, and EEB held their “The Price is Right’ event. The event was a day before the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (ICMO) vote on ‘Sustainable Consumption of Goods – Promoting Repair and Reuse”.
The event challenged MEPs, NGOs and the public as they attempted to work out the ‘official’ price of spare parts for well-known consumer electrical and electronic products. This fun event aimed to educate and remind people of why it is important to have a proper right to repair.
During the event, many were stunned at the cost of spares. For example, the power cable and plug for a steam iron could cost as much as 40% of the price of the iron alone. Or that a replacement screen for an Digital TV was more expensive than the TV itself. Even where spares were more reasonably priced, they were often much more expensive than the price of spares on the aftermarket.
The good news is that the IMCO report was voted through. It significantly improves the Commission’s proposal by introducing provisions to tackle the high cost of repair. It proposes transparent pricing of spare parts, and bans on unfair anti-repair practices.
Without these measures, repairs will remain expensive and, electrical and electronic items will needlessly be disposed of. This is a waste of resources. It costs local authorities money. It damages the environment. It drives the public to buy another expensive product! The report proposes:
Access to more information and parts for independent repairers and end users: guaranteeing access to all information and spare parts for everyone, including independent repairers, remanufacturers, refurbishers and end-users.
Affordability of repair: requiring manufacturers to supply parts at reasonable prices.
A solid ban of anti-repair practices: such as the use of software barriers.
A new obligation to repair outside of legal guarantee: stressing that consumers should be able to pick the provider of their choice, promoting independent repair and self-repair.
Priority to repair within the legal guarantee framework: the priority should be given to repair instead of replacement.
Next Steps …
The next step is the confirmation of the ICMO position in the main European Parliament. Then finally, for the European Council to enact these rights.
Given the broad support for repair amongst the public and at the EU Parliament – the Council should enact the ambition. In the meantime, the case for a proper right to repair continues …
… and in the UK?
In the UK, following FixFest 2023 in Cardiff, an updated Repair and Reuse Declaration has been published. The UK lags behind Europe (and some US states). The UK is the second highest producer of electronic waste per capita in the world, and on track to become the top producer.
The UK is also falling behind other countries in support for repair and reuse. Repair and reuse are central to achieving a circular, less wasteful, economy. The Declaration asks UK legislators and decision-makers at all levels to support repair and reuse. It really should not be hard …!
Note – The Right to Repair campaign is a coalition of European organisations pushing for system change around repair. It consists of over 100 members in 20+ countries, including NGOs, repair businesses, repair networks, and repairers themselves.