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"Right to repair" rules introduced in Europe and UK

  • Europe
  • United Kingdom
  • Commercial and IT
  • ESG - ESG Corporate
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In October 2019 Eversheds Sutherland published a briefing note following the European Commission’s announcement that ‘right to repair’ rules would be introduced as part of its ‘Energy efficiency first’ principles. The actual date the regulations would come into force and their full scope were unknown at the time, albeit it was anticipated that, despite Brexit, the UK would follow suit in adopting broadly equivalent environmentally sustainable regulations.

Ecodesign Directive: EU framework

In March 2021 the EU introduced the new right to repair measures under the framework of its Ecodesign Directive (2009/125/EC), promoting the repairability and sustainability of electronic products by making it easier for consumers to repair their own lighting, televisions and large home appliances through a requirement that they are repairable for at least 10 years after first coming to market. In doing so, the EU cracked down on certain manufacturer practices such as planned obsolescence which intentionally shortened these goods’ lifespans.

Ecodesign: UK measures

As of 8 July 2021, the UK introduced its equivalent measures through the Ecodesign for Energy-Related Products and Energy Information Regulations 2021 (the ‘Regulations’). Amongst the changes, the Regulations require that manufacturers selling washing machines, washer-dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators and TVs in the UK will be legally obligated to make their products’ spare parts available to consumers. Spare parts must be available within 2 years of an appliance going on sale and up to 7-10 years (depending on the part) after production of the appliance has been discontinued to enable consumers to repair the goods they purchase.

This new right to repair however does not come without restrictions. Cookers, hobs, tumble dryers, microwaves, laptops and smartphones will not be covered by the rules, and a large number of spare parts and repair manuals will be available only to professional repairers.

In addition, whilst products will now be better equipped to be repaired under these rules, there is no guarantee that replacements will be affordable or that information on how to carry out a repair will be readily available.

Supporting a greener future

Anne Marie Trevelyan, the UK Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, has stated that the new right to repair measures “will ensure more of our electrical goods can be fixed rather than have to be thrown away when they stop working, putting more money back in the pockets of consumers, as we build back greener”. As a result, the UK government are hopeful that the change will reduce the 1.5m tonnes of electrical waste produced in the country each year and save around 21.5TWh of electricity in the domestic sector by 2050.

The new rules apply from 1 July and manufacturers will now have a two year grace period to put into place new practices to ensure that they are able to make available sufficient stocks of spare parts to customers.

The proposed changes are likely to impact on electronics and white goods manufacturers with supply and distribution networks in the UK and Europe. If you need help assessing how the new ‘Right to Repair’ will affect your business, we are able to help. We take a flexible approach to providing advice, taking a cross-sectoral and practical approach tailored to the diverse needs of our clients. For further information, please do contact us.