A mere 19% of Canadians report that they repair their broken appliances or electronics devices. To make repair more accessible, our governments must put a variety of measures in place. Below is some inspiration of what has been done in France and the EU. We hope that these ideas will make it to our shores as well!
Have a read in order to:
- Learn more about repair-friendly laws in other parts of the world;
- Understand how governments can make it easier for consumers to have appliances repaired;
- Learn about certain measures that could be adopted in Canada to facilitate repair.
1. Inspiration from France
France is a pioneer when it comes to repair. After passing a law in 2015 to penalize planned obsolescence, it moved on with the Loi anti-gaspillage pour une économie circulaire [anti-waste circular economy law] in 2020, containing two repair-friendly provisions: a repairability index and a requirement to make replacement parts available.
The French legislation requires that a repairability index be displayed at the point of sale on certain home appliances and electronics (HAEs). The index grades the product’s repairability from 1 to 10 based on a set of five criteria, including the availability of replacement parts and their price. There are currently nine product categories covered, including mobile phones and dishwashers, with more product categories to be added in the coming years.
🔧🔩 Did you know?
In 2024, France will adopt a durability index for other product categories, which are yet to be determined. The index will be based on the following product criteria: reliability, repairability and how easily it can be upgraded.
What are the pros and cons of the repairability index?
+ It combats obsolescence and makes it easier for the public to understand how difficult or not it is to repair a product.
+ It helps consumers to be better informed about repairability and durability.
+ The vast majority of the population consider it to be useful.
- It’s the manufacturer that calculates the grade. A number of changes are necessary to ensure that the grade is a true reflection of the device’s repairability.
- It’s very difficult for the public to get information about how the grade was calculated.
Easier access to replacement parts
For a number of HAEs, the French law passed in 2020 requires that replacement parts be available for at least five years after the product was on the market. Information on the parts’ (un)availability is also mandatory for a number of HAEs, and 3D printing to produce certain parts is regulated.
What are the pros and cons of this requirement?
+ It’s a real boost for the repair sector, for which access to parts is crucial.
+ The information on availability encourages the purchase of HAEs that are more easily repaired. It also encourages manufacturers to adopt eco-design practices.
+ There is a 15 day limit on delivery time for these parts.
- The five-year parts availability requirement is only for certain HAEs and does not apply to online sales.
- Manufacturers have a grace period of two years before having to sell the parts.
- There is no obligation to make parts available for consumers, only for repairers.
2. Inspiration from the European Union
In 2021, the European Union adopted new requirements for refrigerators, washing machines, washer-dryers, dishwashing machines and electronic screens. Replacement parts must be available for 7 or 10 years, depending on the product and the parts, and in some cases, other essential elements must also be available (e.g. repair manuals, software updates, lists of parts and order procedures).
What are the pros and cons of these new European rules?
+ The requirements ensure improved access to parts and information, while encouraging manufacturers to adopt eco-design.
+ The price for the repair manuals must be reasonable and proportionate.
+ Replacement parts must be delivered within 15 days and require only common tools to install.
- Computers and smartphones are exempted, and the price for the parts is not regulated.
- Manufacturers may limit access to the parts and manuals for two years after the product’s introduction.
- Certain parts and information are reserved for only certain types of repairers.
What can we do in Canada?
When Canadians want to repair something, many obstacles remain. These European regulations can inspire our governments to support access to repair. To learn about these and other inspiring laws in greater detail, check out Annex 4 of our report on access to repair in Canada.
If you would like help make repair more accessible, sign ourpetition calling on the Quebec government to act!