European Commission regulators have introduced a new initiative that would make it possible for smartphones and tablets to be repaired for up to five years after they leave the market, extending their life span and lessening their environmental impact.
- Smartphones and tablets sold in the EU must offer 15 different kinds of spare parts for at least five years.
- Phone companies may choose between making replacement batteries and back-covers available, or design batteries that meet minimum standards (e.g., can retain 83% of rated capacity after 500 full charging cycles).
- Security updates must be provided for at least five years, and “functionality updates” for three years.
- Smartphone owners get access to displays, SIM and memory card trays, microphones, charging ports, and hinges.
- Extensive repair instructions for those parts must be available for seven years after the last day of marketing devices.
- Feedback on the proposals will be collected until September 28.
From an Ars Technica report:
A draft regulation of “ecodesign requirements for mobile phones, cordless phones, and slate tablets” posted on August 31 notes that phones and tablets are “often replaced prematurely by users” and are “not sufficiently used or recycled” (i.e., junk-drawer-ed) at the end of their life. The cost is the energy and new materials mined from the earth for new phones, and unrecycled materials sitting in homes. Extending the lives of smartphones by five years—from their current typical two- to three-year lives—would be like taking 5 million cars off the road, according to the Commission’s findings.
The most notable proposed fix (listed in Annex II) is for phone makers and sellers to make “professional repairers” available for five years after the date a phone is removed from the market. Those repairers would have access to parts including the battery, display, cameras, charging ports, mechanical buttons, microphones, speakers, and hinge assemblies (including for folding phones and tablets).
Source: European Commission