The European Commission is pushing legislation in place that could force companies to extend the lifespan of tech products and gadgets, including smartphones, by design.
Manufacturers could be told to replace raw materials with recycled where possible and the use of single-use materials will be restricted. Premature obsolescence would also be addressed under these rules, preventing companies from phasing out older products, and manufacturers would no longer be allowed to simply destroy unsold goods.
Manufacturers and consumers alike will be encouraged to reduce, reuse and recycle, with consumers given more information on how to fix their own devices and make sustainable choices.
While this legislation would technically only affect the EU, it would most likely impact countries outside of Europe. The EU takes up a large part of the tech market and manufacturers rarely make major changes in one location without doing so worldwide.
The new legislation would be part of the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan – a major aspect of the European Green Deal, Europe’s agenda for sustainable growth.
The aim of the Circular Economy Action Plan is to build a climate-neutral, competitive economy with increased rights for consumers in line with Europe’s 2050 goal for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.
“To achieve climate-neutrality by 2050, to preserve our natural environment, and to strengthen our economic competitiveness, requires a fully circular economy”, said European Green Deal Executive VP Frans Timmermans.
“Today, our economy is still mostly linear, with only 12% of secondary materials and resources being brought back into the economy. Many products break down too easily, cannot be reused, repaired or recycled, or are made for single use only. There is a huge potential to be exploited both for businesses and consumers. With today’s plan we launch action to transform the way products are made and empower consumers to make sustainable choices for their own benefit and that of the environment.”
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This wouldn’t be the first move the EU has made to encourage sustainability in tech. The European Commission has previously pushed legislation for a universal phone charger, receiving flack from Apple, and is expected to ask companies to bring back removable batteries to make repairs easier.