New Ecodesign measures to make repair easier and products safer
Popular consumer products such as washing machines and fridges are about to rely on less energy, become easier to fix and safer for our health.
The new Ecodesign package, expected to be adopted at the end of February, will improve five products that most consumers own at home: lighting, fridges, TV screens, dishwashers and washing machines. BEUC and its member organisations have long called for the new measures.
One pillar is to prolong the lifetime of products through easier repair. Spare parts will have to be available for 7 to 10 years as a minimum. Also, consumers should be informed on how to maintain and repair their appliances.
Although these new requirements are forward-looking, they should have gone further. For instance, it is welcome that the new measures will limit delivery time of spare parts to a maximum of three weeks. But if a family must wait three weeks or more for the repair of their washing machine, it is likely they will buy a new one instead. Also, certain spare parts will only be available to professional repairers, which disempowers end users who have the technical skills and prefer to self-repair.
The package will benefit consumers’ health thanks to the ban on flame retardants in displays. Currently, most screens contain chemical substances to delay ignition. But research has shown that flame retardants constitute a risk to people and the environment. Such chemicals are ubiquitous as they can end up in unexpected places such as blood and breast milk. Thanks to the ban, manufacturers will have to resort to safer alternatives to delay fire.
Finally, the new measures will decrease light bulb flickering. It is good news for consumers as research shows that repeated exposure to flickering light can affect the nervous system.
These new measures come on top of a decrease in energy consumption, which has historically been the primary objective of the Ecodesign Directive. The Energy label categories will also be updated so consumers have a clearer picture of how much energy-consuming the appliances are.
 The Ecodesign package is currently under the scrutiny of the EU Parliament and Council. If both institutions do not veto the texts in the coming weeks, the European Commission will officially have to adopt the package, which is foreseen end of February 2019.
 Information on the coming EU Lighting Regulations – Ecodesign and Energy Labelling – Compilation of the Federal Environment Agency, Germany, October 2017.