Consumption Finns produce 22 kilos of electronic waste a year, and many do not know how long the device must last under the law – Now the EU is promoting a shift towards sustainable consumption

Friday Black Friday and the ensuing Cyber ​​Monday are among the most popular individual shopping days in the world. There is also a clear peak in consumption in Finland. Electronics are especially hunted for discount sales.

During last year’s Black Friday, Finns made purchases in home appliance and electronics stores seven times compared to other Fridays, according to S-bank’s card data statistics.

The old device is replaced by a new one. There is electronic waste left, 22 kilos per person per year in Finland. In Europe, electronic waste is the fastest growing waste stream, well under half of which is recycled.

The focus is shifting from waste policy to product policy.

Consumer culture will soon be addressed at European Union level. Consumers are being instructed to repair their devices and more is being demanded from manufacturers.

In March 2020, the European Commission deplored the fact that the market provided consumers with equipment that was prematurely obsolete and difficult to repair. The consumer is constantly encouraged to switch from the old to the new.

According to surveys, the majority of Europeans do not even know that the minimum warranty period for a product purchased in the EU is two years by law.

That is why a new “circular economy action plan” has been launched, which will proceed next spring. This is a fundamental change in EU product policy, describes a specialist from the Ministry of the Environment Sarianne Tikkanen. The focus is shifting from waste policy to product policy.

“This is a change in mentality in particular. The new premise is that the product must be durable, can be serviced, repaired, upgraded and used for as long as possible, and spare parts must be available, unlike now. ”

In practice The EU is tightening its product policy with a slew of initiatives and regulations. The full performance package will be released in spring 2022.

The process is complex. It includes a number of initiatives and changes to the EU Ecodesign Directive.

A key part of the package is the Sustainable Products Initiative, which is tightening product policy. The durability and repairability of products sold in the EU will be improved.

The so-called right to repair equipment is made available to the consumer. It requires manufacturers to make the repairability of a device “simple and affordable”. The computer must be unlockable, removable, and replacement.

For the project There are still a lot of questions involved, as the exact content of the proposals is not clear, says a leading expert from the Energy Agency Juha Toivanen.

At least general principles will come into force, such as the requirement to inform the consumer adequately about the repair of the device. More detailed guidelines are made by product group. This year, new “ecodesign requirements” have already come into force for, for example, dishwashers and refrigerators.

Next, sustainable regulation of smartphones and tablets is being prepared. In them, the right to repair would require that the battery, screen and back of the smartphone should be replaceable or repairable by the consumer, Toivanen says. In addition, the battery should last a certain number of charges.

Operating system updates should be available for at least five years. In Finland, the average lifespan of a phone is two or three years.

“It has a remarkably short lifespan. In the future, smartphones should be more durable and repairable so that they can be used for at least five years, ”says Toivanen.

The course of consumer culture turns slowly.

Eurobarometer 77% of Europeans are already trying to repair or repair goods before buying a new one. The right of repair does not mean that repairing the old one is the most profitable for the consumer.

The use of repair services should be as easy as possible so that consumers are sufficiently interested, says the Secretary General of the Consumers’ Association Juha Beurling-Pomoell.

“Ease is paramount, as exemplified by food delivery services. The smart device could also be repaired so that the subscription service retrieves it from home and replaces the replacement device and deals with the insurer. ”

The public sector could reduce VAT on repair services, Beurling-Pomoell suggests. The possibility of a tax deduction could also be attractive.

“But I would see that the primary mechanism that applies here is the logic of a market economy. We need to generate demand for repair services. ”

Already, most Europeans say they try to repair or repair goods before buying a new one.

Consumer culture the course turns slowly. For example, sustainability regulation for smartphones is expected to come into force in Europe by the end of 2023 at the earliest.

The direction is still clear, also outside the EU.

Last summer in Britain began to require electronics manufacturers that there are sufficient spare parts available to consumers for the equipment sold. President of the United States Joe Biden gave in July, a presidential decree to facilitate the repair of technological equipment by third parties.

Within the EU France introduce an electronic repairability register, in which equipment manufacturers must report indexed information on the repairability of equipment under penalty of a fine.

Manufacturers anticipate developments. From the beginning of 2022, Apple will launch a repair program for customers who want to repair their Iphone themselves.

Read more: Apple plans to offer consumers the opportunity to repair their own phones

The potential for environmental impacts is surprisingly high. If the average lifespan of Europe’s more than 400 million smartphones were to increase by one year, the annual emission reductions would be equivalent to removing all Danish passenger cars, according to a study by the European Environment Agency.

“Of course, this is not going to be easy. There are so many moving parts. ”

In the EU the aim is for the reforms to create Europe’s own internal market for sustainable products.

At the same time, trade policy tensions may arise when regulation may hamper Asian exports. The change must still be implemented at the market level, says Sarianne Tikkanen of the Ministry of the Environment.

“This will give us a common ground in the internal market. Of course, this will not be easy. There are so many moving parts. ”

According to Tikkanen, this is a big matter of principle.

“Of course, sustainability should already be the starting point for everything, but now it needs to be addressed in legislation.”

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