The aim of the Circular Economy Action Plan 2020 is to ensure that products become more durable, easier to repair and upgrade. Ecodesign and energy labelling policies help businesses, citizens and governments contribute to the clean energy transition, meet EU energy efficiency targets, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support a circular economy. They create business opportunities and increase resilience through harmonized rules for energy-related products. In particular, medium and large household appliances (washing machines, refrigerators, etc.) are taken into account, as well as business products. Aspects such as energy consumption, water consumption, greenhouse gas emission levels and material efficiency are covered. All these measures stimulate the demand and supply of more sustainable products, while at the same time significantly reducing the costs of the end user.
On 16 June 2023, the Commission proposed new rules to help consumers make informed and sustainable decisions when buying mobile phones and tablets, in line with the existing EU Energy Labelling Regulation. On the same day, the European Parliament and the Council approved measures to increase the energy efficiency, durability and easier repair of devices, following the Commission’s proposal in November 2022, in accordance with the EU Ecodesign Regulation.
According to the then proposed Energy Labelling Regulation, smartphones and tablets placed on the EU market will have to display information about their energy efficiency, battery life, protection against dust and water, and resistance to accidental drops. The novelty is that the product placed on the EU market will have to have a repairability assessment, which will help consumers in the EU to make more informed and sustainable decisions when purchasing and thus encourage sustainable consumption.
The use of critical raw materials will be optimized and recycling will be facilitated. The new products will use the existing and known EU energy labels of the A-G scale, and the European database will provide additional product information through the European Product Register for Energy Labels EPREL, https://eprel.ec.europa.eu/screen/home.
The newly approved Ecodesign Regulation sets minimum requirements for mobile and wireless phones and tablets placed on the EU market, and these include:
- Resistance to accidental drops and scratches, protection from dust and water and the use of sufficiently durable batteries, which means that the batteries should withstand at least 800 charge and discharge cycles while retaining at least 80% of their initial capacity
- Rules on disassembly and repair, including obligations of manufacturers to make critical spare parts available to repairers within 5-10 working days and up to 7 years after the end of sales of the product model on the EU market
- Availability of operating system upgrades for longer periods, at least 5 years after the product has been put on the market
- Non-discriminatory access to professional service technicians for any software or firmware required for replacement
After entry into force, both proposals provide for a transition period of 21 months before the requirements become applicable.
What follows is the submission of these rules on energy labelling to the European Parliament and the Council for a two-month review period, after which they will be officially adopted if there are no objections to the text. In order to harmonize the entry into force of these two laws that refer to the same category of products, their publication in the Official Gazette will take place on the same day, after the adoption of the rules on energy labelling.
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