EU lawmakers propose a "right to repair" for mobile phones and other devices

About two in three Europeans would like to keep using their current digital devices for longer, the European Commission says

The European Commission on Wednesday laid out a series of proposals aimed at making the electronics sector more sustainable, including implementing a "right to repair" consumer devices like mobile phones, laptops and tablets. 

The new proposals are part of the Commission's Circular Economy Action Plan, one of the main components of the European Green Deal. It includes measures like a "right to repair" because, the report says, "Empowering consumers and providing them with cost-saving opportunities is a key building block of the sustainable product policy framework." 

The right to repair, the report says, should include a right to update obsolete software. 

Electrical and electronic equipment is one of the fastest-growing waste streams in the EU, the report says, with current annual growth rates of 2 percent. Less than 40 percent of electronic waste is recycled in the EU, according to estimates. 

"Value is lost when fully or partially functional products are discarded because they are not reparable, the battery cannot be replaced, the software is no longer supported, or materials incorporated in devices are not recovered," the report says. "About two in three Europeans would like to keep using their current digital devices for longer, provided performance is not significantly affected."

In addition to introducing a right to repair, the plan proposes new regulatory measures to ensure devices are designed for energy efficiency and durability, reparability, upgradability, maintenance, reuse and recycling. 

Other new proposals include the introduction of a common charger, as well as incentives to decouple the purchase of chargers from the purchase of new devices. The plan also calls for the improving the collection and treatment of waste electrical and electronic equipment.