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Assessing the impact of the right to repair law on telcos

As global awareness of environmental protection and electronic waste (commonly known as e-waste) reduction continues to grow, the telecom sector is actively embracing environmentally responsible solutions.

One big change we’ve seen is more and more organisations using our test and repair services. These services breathe new life into existing equipment and inspire confidence in reuse, two fundamental pillars of the circular economy. Although it’s difficult to measure the right to repair legislation’s impact on this transformation, it’s clear that more substantial efforts are required. For example, e-waste surged 21 percent between 2014 and 2019 reaching an alarming 53.6 million metric tonnes. To put this into perspective, this is equivalent to throwing out 1,000 laptops every single second.

Join us as we delve into the meaning behind the right to repair, explore the current legislation and uncover the valuable lessons the telecoms industry can derive from it.

What does right to repair mean?

The concept of ‘right to repair’ essentially centres on a consumer’s entitlement to repair the products they purchase.

Some manufacturers would prefer to exclusively handle repairs on the devices they sell, rather than allowing consumers or third parties to address issues. This enables them to set the price and potentially provide a replacement, even if the consumer would prefer to attempt a repair themselves.

The right to repair also helps combat ‘planned obsolescence’, a strategy where goods are intentionally designed to become unusable after a certain period, with no options for repair. This is a tactic employed by manufacturers to compel consumers to buy new products instead of maintaining their current ones.

What is the right to repair law?

The right to repair law, which forms part of the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan came into force on October 1, 2019 (and took effect in the UK on July 1, 2021). It empowers consumers and third-party repair professionals by giving them legal access to tools, manuals, and spare parts for electronic device repairs. The legislation aims to remove barriers that limit access to repair information and components for household appliances.

More recently, on March 30, 2023, the European Commission proposed a directive to promote repairing goods, targeting the issue of frequent and premature replacements. The goal is to make repairs easier, cost-effective, and aligned with the European Green Deal‘s waste reduction objectives.

By mandating manufacturers to provide transparency and support for repairs, the right to repair law enables consumers to make informed choices, extend device lifespans, and reduce e-waste. However, some argue that stricter standards are needed to ensure more electrical goods can be fixed instead of being discarded when they malfunction.

Key takeaway points

  • Right to repair rules apply to various household products such as dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators, electronic displays (e.g. televisions), and light sources (e.g. household lamps).
  • Proposals include obligations on manufacturers to make available: (a) spare parts for up to 7 or 10 years (for certain products); (b) repair and maintenance information for professional repairers.
  • Manufacturers and importers will need to comply with these requirements in order to keep marketing such products in the EU.

How does the right to repair impact the telecom network industry?

While the current legislation primarily targets consumer products, the right to repair concept is pivotal for the telecom network sector. It empowers operators and repair professionals to prolong the operational lifespan of network equipment, thus advancing sustainability, bolstering the availability of reusable telecom hardware, and curbing e-waste. This underscores the significance of the green telecoms market.

The term ‘green telecoms market’ refers to the distribution of refurbished, used, recycled, or discontinued products that remain in good working condition. In some instances, these items are essentially new but are surplus to their current owners’ needs. They undergo recovery, repair, and resale through circular economy companies like TXO, and sometimes through the original equipment manufacturers themselves (with support from sustainable partners like us working behind the scenes!).


Here at TXO, we are passionate about the circular economy and proud to help others take control of their resources. These are just a few of the ways we’re working with our customers to make a difference.


tonnes ethically recycled each year


parts called back last year for reuse


products repaired last year

Why repairing network equipment is important for sustainability

Repairing network equipment is a cornerstone of sustainability and a vital component of the circular economy. Here are some of the key reasons why this matters.

1. Reducing electronic waste: The telecom industry is notorious for generating electronic waste due to its rapid technological advancements. This often results in older equipment drawing power without actively contributing to network traffic or, worse, being discarded as electronic waste and ending up in landfills, contributing to environmental pollution. Repairing and refurbishing network equipment extends its usable life, significantly reducing the volume of e-waste that would otherwise be discarded.

2. Resource conservation: Manufacturing new network equipment consumes significant resources including precious metals and energy. By repairing and reusing existing equipment, we reduce the demand for raw materials and energy, easing the strain on our planet’s natural resources. This resource conservation aligns perfectly with the circular economy’s principle of maximising the utility of existing assets.

3. Energy savings: Producing new telecom equipment not only requires raw materials but also consumes energy during manufacturing processes and transportation. Repairing and reusing existing equipment drastically reduces the energy footprint associated with the production and distribution of new hardware. This translates to reduced carbon emissions and a smaller environmental impact.

4. Cost efficiency: Repairing network equipment is often more cost-effective than purchasing newly manufactured hardware. Telecom network operators can allocate their budgets more efficiently by choosing repair and refurbishment services, allowing them to invest in other sustainability initiatives or infrastructure improvements.

6. Encouraging innovation: Repairing network equipment encourages innovation in the development of more repairable and durable products. Manufacturers will need to design equipment with repairability in mind, resulting in longer-lasting and eco-friendly technology.

7. Promoting a mindset shift: Repairing equipment fosters a mindset shift towards responsible consumption. It encourages individuals and organisations to consider the environmental impact of their choices and prioritise sustainability in their decision-making. It’s important to remember that older network equipment can still be highly functional and valuable.

8. Extending the lifecycle of legacy systems: Many operators still rely on legacy systems, such as SDH, and require spare parts that are no longer available from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Therefore, repair services are essential to sustain service for customers.


Asset recovery & the circular economy approach

As passionate advocates for sustainable telecom networks, we take great pride in offering an extensive third-party repair service tailored specifically for telecom equipment, covering optical, IP, and radio-based technologies at the circuit board level. In the past year, our UK-based repair centre successfully restored over 12,000 products.

Our dedication to sustainability extends well beyond repair services. We actively engage organisations all over the world with asset recovery programmes that align with the principles of the circular economy. Rather than discarding obsolete equipment, we offer a solution wherein telecom network operators can collaborate with us to recover valuable assets. This approach not only generates revenue from decommissioned equipment but also ensures that these assets are refurbished, reused, or properly recycled.

The right to repair legislation, combined with the efforts of companies like ours, paves the way toward a more sustainable and circular future for the telecom network industry. This represents a win-win situation, benefiting both businesses and our planet. Moreover, this legislation serves as a catalyst, inspiring us to enhance our commitment to establishing global sustainable networks.