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?
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.