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Brussels wants businesses to offer consumers right to repair

A broken Apple iPhone in need of repairs.
A broken Apple iPhone in need of repairs. Copyright AP Photo/Ben Margot, File
Copyright AP Photo/Ben Margot, File
By Sandor Zsiros
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The aim is to reduce waste and increase savings for people.

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New proposals presented by the European Commission on Wednesday would force companies to offer consumers the right to repair their devices or machines.

The plans are part of the EU's bid to reduce waste and develop its so-called circular economy.

Machines that are thrown away instead of being fixed already produce 35 million tonnes of waste and 261 million tonnes of CO2 emissions every year in Europe, according to the European Commission.

Under the proposals, a legal warranty period of two years, for example, would require producers to offer repair services, if doing so does not cost more than a replacement.

Five to ten years after purchasing any device, producers would also be obliged to repair products, but with the consumer paying to do so.

Didier Reynders, the European Commissioner responsible for consumer rights, told Euronews that many businesses will be able to take part in the repair process.

"To be sure to have a low cost, we are trying to organise a new ecosystem of many, many SMEs involved in the reparations system and in the reparations network because it will be an obligation for the producer to disclose information about the product, about the way to repair the product. So for many SMEs it will be possible to take part in the reparation process," Reynders said.

In the Belgian capital, an NGO called Circular.brussels is already repairing used machines to give them a second lease of life.

Dany Chouha, the general manager at Circular.brussels explained to Euronews how her company gives out washing machines to those in need.

"We collect used machines, dishwashers and washing machines, in order to repair them, to refurbish them, and once it's done, we distribute them to people in energy poverty, people who can not afford new machines," she said.

In the last three years, the company's technicians have also repaired over 5,000 computers and distributed them to students and social organisations. Without their work, those machines would just end up in landfills.

"Now people are aware of the dangers of these machines if they are thrown in landfills or they are not recycled, and now people are aware that a laptop after one or two years can be easily fixed, so I think it's about awareness mostly," Chouha said.

The new rules could enter into force in two years' time, once the European Parliament and EU countries agreed on them.

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