The French Government is set to tackle the issue of ‘planned obsolescence’ in technology products by introducing a ‘durability and repairability’ rating.
Planned obsolescence is when manufacturers design an existing version of a product to become ‘dated or useless’ within a given time frame.
In technology circles, the replacement cycle for smartphones has historically been two to three years, as their underlying components are designed to wear down, or to stop receiving software updates.
Smartphones, televisions, washing machines and vacuum cleaners all are used on average for shorter periods than both their designed and desired lifetimes, according to a recent European Environment Agency (EEA) briefing.
Extending the lifetime and delaying obsolescence of electronics can significantly reduce their environmental and climate impacts and contribute to meeting the European Union’s (EU) environment, climate and circular economy objectives, according to the EEA.
Under the French Government’s plans, products such as smartphones and electronic and household appliances will have a new sticker on their packaging, indicating how long their estimated “life” will be.
The stickers will identify the durability of the product, and its repairability, on a scale of 1 to 10, according to The Connexion.
From January 1, the repair rating will be compulsory for smartphones, televisions, laptop computers, front-loading washing machines and lawn mowers, according to reports by The Sunday Times.
The list will be expanded and the ‘repair’ label will become a ‘durability rating’ in 2024, Barbara Pompili, the environment minister, said.
The plan also intends to create QR codes, allowing consumers to compare labels, to see how much the product in question – including its manufacturing process – impacts the environment.
Alongside this, the French Government is also seeking to introduce a network of electronic device repair workshops, that would offer repair packages.
60% of personal electronics and household appliances are thrown away or recycled when they break down because of the difficulty around repairing items.
The government aims to reduce that to 40% within three years as part of its push to develop a “circular” consumer economy over the “linear” model of “take-make-use-discard”.