On 31 August, the first EU Ecodesign and Energy Labelling rules on mobile phones and tablets were published in the Official Journal of the European Union.
By June 2025, these products will have to be designed to be longer lasting and more repairable, marking a new era for the sustainability of electronic products.
- ensuring access to spare parts (Spare parts for repair should be easily accessible) and access to repair information (The information necessary for repair should be easily accessible) for at least 7 years after the end of the distribution of a product in the market.
- manufacturers will have to make compatible software updates available for at least 5 years.
- smartphones will have to withstand at least 45 accidental drops without functional impairment
- maintain at least 80% of their battery capacity after undergoing 800 charging cycles.
- Tablets are to follow the same rules, but only for their battery capacity.
- better access to information about the overall repairability of smartphones thanks to a repair index.
2. Needs more work
the affordability of repair is not tackled as the price of spare parts is neither limited nor considered in the calculation of the repair index.
Given that the price of repair is one of the main factors that influences the choice of end-users to repair a product or not, it is regrettable that manufacturers will only have to indicate the pre-tax prices of the spare parts, prices to which manufacturers will not have to commit.
Furthermore, the text poorly tackles the matter of part-pairing, one of the main barriers to repairing products for end-users and independent repairers. Professional repairers will have access to information and tools to substitute and repair serialised parts, which is a significant win. However, an outright ban of part-pairing would have been a more fundamental step towards a universal right to repair, and we regret that the opportunity was not seized.
Finally, we believe the legislation could have gone further in terms of facilitating self-repair. Manufacturers will still have the option not to provide spare batteries to end-users, under the condition that they respect certain longevity and waterproofness requirements. This creates a false dichotomy between repairability and durability, especially given that a number of waterproof electronic products with replaceable batteries (including smartphones) are already on the market. We also regret the significantly limited number of spare parts available to end-users, as compared to the list that concerns professional repairers.