One small step closer to longer-lasting consumer products

BEUC NEWS - 01.06.2017

Printers that cannot be fixed, electric toothbrushes that break down too quickly, coffee machine spare parts that are unavailable… Many consumers experience early failure of products every day.

 

Earlier this week, the EU Parliament’s Internal Market Committee (IMCO) adopted a report by Green MEP Pascal Durand aimed to tackle the issue in Europe. The initially ambitious report has unfortunately been weakened along the way.

If the EU is serious about making the economy actually circular, measures to make products last longer should be mandatory, not just voluntary.

Legal guarantees should be extended to over 2 years, so that they more closely match consumers’ expectations of the lifespan of the product. This would help consumers use their products longer. Sadly no progressive proposal made it into the Committee’s report.

There is also a problem with the reparability of products. Many goods are binned too quickly because spare parts are not available. Unfortunately, the report as it stands only “encourages” manufacturers to make spare parts available. It weakens Durand’s stronger demand to “guarantee” such a right.

Also, software updates are key to make our computers or phones work. The new text only calls for more transparency on upgradeability and security updates, but that will not ensure that consumers’ smartphones get all necessary updates to work properly. That would have required minimum lifespan for software, as proposed initially.

This report could however provide the EU Commission and Member States with useful tips to increase the durability of consumer products and improve consumer information about how long the products they buy are expected to last.

We count on MEPs to strengthen the text when they vote in plenary next July.


More info on our work on durable products here