EU wants to force manufacturers to make smartphones more durable

The European Commission is developing new measures to reduce the volume of electronic waste by imposing new repairability standards.

The European Commission is proposing a set of new rules to require smartphone and tablet manufacturers to make their devices more durable. Among the proposals, the commissioners want smartphone and tablet manufacturers to make at least 15 spare parts available over a period of at least five years from the first date of sale in the European Union.

This would imply, regardless of the brand of smartphone or tablet, that components such as the screen, the charger, the SIM drawer, the battery, or the charging port remain available during this new legal period. In addition, the commissioners want to standardize the lifespan of the batteries as well. The latter must, if the text comes into force, be certified for a capacity of at least 83% after 500 charge cycles.

The European Commission proposes new rules against planned obsolescence

In addition, manufacturers selling their products in Europe will now be required to display water resistance, dust resistance, drop resistance as well as battery endurance data. The current situation allows for great variations in terms of durability depending on the brands and models. This leads Europeans on average to change smartphones every two years.

With this new text, the Commission would like to convince more consumers to keep their devices for around 5 years. This would be equivalent, in terms of carbon emissions, to eliminating the equivalent of 5 million cars. In addition to repairability, the text also takes into account the question of recycling… but also software updates.

According to the new rules, manufacturers will have to offer at least 5 years of software updates (including 3 years of major updates). For now, except for Apple, the market average is more like 2-3 years depending on the manufacturer. Of course, not all players in the sector are enthusiastic about these new obligations.

On the one hand, Apple, Google, and Samsung are feeling the tide and have already started offering their customers spare parts and even do-it-yourself repair kits at home for some time now. But many competitors also retort that this regulated provision of spare parts risks increasing the consumption of plastic.

Europe is increasingly taking the initiative to impose obligations on manufacturers of electronic products. The latest measure concerns the charging port: by 2024, the USB-C port must become the standard, including on iPhones – which currently still use a proprietary Lightning port.


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