the European Union wants electronic manufacturers to be sustainable under its Circular Economy Action Plan 2020 According to the latest draft proposals, European regulators want smartphones and tablets to last long and be durable.
the financial times reports that regulators plan to force smartphone makers to provide at least 15 replacement parts to professionals for a minimum of 5 years from launch. So customers can easily repair their phones if they want to and won’t be forced to upgrade.
What is the 2020 Circular Economy Action Plan and what does the draft say
For those who don’t know, the circular economy aims to stop the production of waste in the first place. It is based on three principles, driven by design: Eliminate waste and pollution; circulate products and materials (at their highest value); and Regenerate nature. With the recent draft proposal, the EU aims to reduce the carbon footprint left by phones after they are thrown away.
According to the European Environment OfficeExtending the useful life of phones by five years would be equivalent to saving 10 million tons of CO2 emissions or removing 5 million cars from the roads of Europe. Regulators argue that if phones and tablets become more repairable and recyclable, the energy consumed during their production can be reduced by a third. “Devices are often replaced prematurely by users and, at the end of their useful life, are not sufficiently reused or recycled, leading to wasted resources,” the draft proposal read.
Not only that, regulators want manufacturers to use batteries to survive at least 500 charges without deteriorating below 83 percent. Additionally, phones would have to display an energy-efficiency label, similar to what you see on home appliances. Even manufacturers will be forced to ensure that software updates do not negatively affect battery life.
Devices that are not part of the new rule
As of now, the draft proposal covers smartphones, standard phones, and tablets. However, smartphones with foldable screens “that can be partially or fully unrolled and rolled up by the user” are exempt from this regulation. Devices that do not meet the EU sustainability standard will be withdrawn from the market.
Meanwhile, smartphone makers think differently, arguing that requiring more parts to be available increases plastic consumption.
digital europea European trade organization with members including Apple, Samsung, Google Y xiaomisays, “Potential overproduction, subsequent storage, and destruction of spare parts will naturally result in wasted resources, reduced material efficiency, and negative economic value, ultimately leading to higher costs for the consumer”.
This is another big blow from European regulators to smartphone makers, but it affects everyone. In June, the EU made the use of a standardized charger, likely USB C, mandatory by 2024 for all products sold on the European market.