It’s about to get a lot easier to repair old appliances in the EU


The European Union has adopted new rules that should make it easier to repair your old household appliances in the future. The new Ecodesign Directive, which BBC News reports manufacturers will have to obey starting in 2021, will force firms to make spare parts available for up to a decade for common appliances, including refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, and televisions.

It’s hoped that the new right-to-repair rules will benefit both individuals and the planet. As iFixit noted in a report published last week, over half of an appliance’s carbon footprint comes from its manufacturing process. The EU estimates that allowing devices to be repaired and used for longer (combined with new energy efficiency labels introduced earlier this year) could save as much as 167 TWh of energy per year by 2030. That’s roughly equivalent to the annual energy consumption of Denmark.

There are also hopes that the new legislation will save customers money, around €150 annually, according to the EU’s estimates. Unfortunately, consumers will likely still have to pay for professional repair services since the EU’s rules only force companies to make spare parts and repair information available to professional repairers rather than end users.

A FAQ produced by the European Commission highlights some of the new requirements. Manufacturers will need to provide spare parts for seven years for refrigerators and 10 years for washing machines and dishwashers, for example. Spare parts will also need to be provided within 15 working days, and they need to be replaceable using commonly available tools and without permanently damaging the appliance. iFixit adds that servers will also be covered by the legislation, with a requirement that manufacturers provide firmware updates for eight years after production.

The EU’s new regulations have been introduced as around 20 states across the US are preparing their own right-to-repair legislation, according to BBC News. However, progress in some states has been slow. Earlier this year, for example, reports emerged that an Apple lobbyist had successfully convinced Californian legislators to postpone its right-to-repair bill until 2020. However, right-to-repair campaigners could have found themselves an ally in presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Earlier this year, she suggested that she’d be in favor of introducing a national right-to-repair law for farming equipment.