In the European Union, the Companies that sell electronic products like refrigerators, washers, hair dryers or tele-visions will need to ensure that those appliances can be repaired for up to 10 years (one decade).

  • The “Right to Repair,” as it is sometimes called, came into force across the 27 countries from March 2021.
  • Right to Repair
    • The term Right to Repair in electronics refers to European government legislation that is intended to allow consumers the ability to repair and modify their own consumer electronic devices, where otherwise the manufacturer of such devices require the consumer to use only their offered services.
    • Idea of the Right to Repair originally originated from the United States of America where the Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Act of 2012, required the manufacturers to provide the necessary documents and information to allow anyone to repair their vehicles.
  • About New Rules
    • Under the new European Union rules, manufacturers will have to ensure parts are available for up to a 10 years, though some will only be provided to professional repair companies to ensure they are installed correctly.
    • The New devices will also have to come with repair manuals and be made in such a way that they can be dismantled using conventional tools when they really can’t be fixed anymore, to improve recycling.
  • E-Waste Generation in the Europe
    • As per the 2020 Global E-Waste Monitor, Europeans produce more than 16 kg of electrical waste per person every year.
      • Asia and Africa were much lower: 5.6 and 2.5 kilogram respectively.
      • Global E-Waste Monitor: It is a collaboration of the Global E-waste Statistics Partnership, formed by United Nation University, International Telecommunication Union, and International Solid Waste Association, in close collaboration with the UN Environment Programme.
    • About half of that junk is due to broken household appliances, and the European Union recycles only about 40 per cent of it, leaving behind huge amounts of potentially hazardous material.
  • Significance
    • It will help reduce the vast mountain of electrical waste (e-waste) that piles up each year on the continent.
    • It will save consumers money.
    • It will contribute to circular economy objectives by improving the life span, maintenance, re-use, upgrade, recyclability and waste handling of appliances.
    • It would tackle two manufacturing trends:
      • Cavalier attitude towards planned obsolescence.
      • Tendency on the part of manufacturers to control the repair and maintenance network.
  • Problem with Repair of Modern Appliances
    • Need Special Tools
      • The Modern appliances are often glued or riveted together, if you need specialist tools or have to break open the device, then you can’t repair it.
    • Lack of Spare Parts
      • It is another problem, campaigners say. Sometimes a single broken tooth on a tiny plastic sprocket can be challenging work.
  • Concerns For Manufacturers
    • Manufacturers have pushed back against a broader “right to repair” as that would hurt their ability to sell new products more frequently, and would push them to become a service provider rather than a product maker.
    • They also say allowing the consumer to repair high-technology products is a risk, think of lithium-ion batteries in cars.

E-waste in India

  • Official Data
    • According to the Central Pollution Control Board, India generated more than 10 lakh tonnes of e-waste in 2019-20, an increase from 7 lakh tonnes in 2017-18.
  • Indian Initiatives
    • E-Waste Management Rules of 2016
      • The rules aim to enable the recovery and/or reuse of useful material from e-waste, thereby reducing the hazardous wastes destined for disposal and to ensure the environmentally sound management of all types of waste of electrical and electronic equipment.
    • E-Waste Clinic
      • Aimed at segregating, processing and disposal of waste.

About E-Waste

  • It is short for Electronic-Waste and the term is used to describe old, end-of-life or discarded electronic appliances. It includes their components, consumables, parts and spares.
    • It is categorised into 21 types under two broad categories:
      • Information technology and communication equipment.
      • Consumer electrical and electronics.
    • The E-waste includes their components, consumables, parts and spares.

Ahead

Such regulations could be especially valuable in a country like India, where service networks are often spotty and authorised workshops are few and far between in the hinterland. India’s informal repair sector does a good job with jugaad. But the quality of repair and maintenance services could improve substantially if such legislation was adopted.

Right to Repair for Europeans for 10 years Right to Repair for Europeans for 10 years