EC proposes new phone and tablet rules for circular economy



Under the new Energy Labelling Regulation, smartphones and tablets put on the EU market will have to display information on their energy efficiency, battery longevity, protection from dust and water, and resistance to accidental drops.

The European Commission (EC) says the new rules will make phones and tablets more durable, energy efficient and easier to repair. The products placed on the EU market will also be required to display a reparability score for the first time.

Mobile phones and tablets produced according to these rules will save almost 14 terawatt hours in primary energy each year by 2030, the Commission says, as well as help to optimise the use of critical raw materials and facilitate their recycling.

The newly approved Ecodesign Regulation lays out minimum requirements for mobile and cordless phones and tablets being placed on the EU market.

These requirements include resistance to accidental drops or scratches, protection from dust and water and use of sufficiently durable batteries. Batteries should also withstand at least 800 cycles of charge and discharge while retaining at least 80% of their initial capacity.

Rules on disassembly and repair are also included in the regulations, including obligations for producers to make critical spare parts available to repairers within 5-10 working days, and until 7 years after the end of sales of the product model on the EU market.

Finally, the regulations require the availability of operating system upgrades for longer periods: for at least 5 years after the product has been placed on the market. And non-discriminatory access for professional repairers to any software or firmware needed for the replacement.

The Energy Labelling rules will now be submitted to the European Parliament and Council for a two-month scrutiny period, after which they will be formally adopted if there is no objection to the text by the co-legislators.

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