The regulations, agreed two years ago by BEIS, target premature obsolescence in goods such as televisions and washing machines, and aim to incentivise energy efficient manufacturing.
The ‘right to repair’ has been implemented in Great Britain, whereas Northern Ireland will continue to maintain EU regulations under the Protocol. Essentially, manufacturers are now obliged to make spare parts readily available, and it applies to new products bought on or after 1 July 2021, alongside other energy efficiency measures.
Manufacturers have a grace period of up to two years to make spare parts available, however, and the ruling does not cover responsibility for repairs, so for repairing products out of warranty the consumer is still financially liable.
Libby Peake, Head of Policy at Green Alliance, has said the regulations "represent a small, first step towards giving people the long-lasting repairable products they want" but don’t create a "legal right to repair[…]The government hasn't given consumers any such right, as the spare parts and repairability criteria are only directed at professional repairers, not at the people who own products. There is also no guarantee that spare parts and repair services will be affordable, so considerable barriers remain to making this the easiest, default option."
Consumption reduction and circularity
It is estimated the measures could reduce up to 1.5m tonnes of e-waste annually, and potentially expand the lifespan of some goods by up to ten years.
This is just one example of the shift in UK policy setting that targets consumption reduction and circularity and we are hoping to see similar suggestions in the upcoming consultation on reforming the WEEE regulations.
Keeping products in use for longer, and increasing the efficiency of them, will be an essential part of achieving low-carbon and sustainability governmental ambitions in the future. However, these won’t be achieved without a wholescale cultural shift towards lower consumption, that these kind of policy measures alone can not achieve.
New reuse and repair guidance
In 2020 Ecosurety funded the Fit for reuse project run by the Reuse Network, through the Ecosurety Exploration Fund. This project is creating much needed, up to date guidance to enable the safe reuse and repair of electrical goods.
From 2022 it is hoped that the guidance will be openly shared across industry to benefit manufacturers, suppliers, consumers, reuse organisations, regulators and local authorities.
If you have a question about the right to repair regulation or the Fit for Reuse project, please contact our team.
As Policy advisor Louisa provides key support to our team, including preparing reports on environmental policy issues and maintaining awareness of new developments. As such she will often be found coordinating responses to policy consultations, advocating policy positions and providing internal guidance to current legislation.