Europe Wants a Right to Repair Smartphones and Gadgets


With the “right to repair,” upgrading a phone’s software, replacing the battery of a tablet, or buying a new display for a laptop instead of changing the whole device would become easier, said Jean-Pierre Schweitzer, from the European Environmental Bureau, a network of environmental citizens’ groups.

“We know people are ready for it,” said Mr. Schweitzer, who focuses on circular economy and product policy at the network. “The measures that the commission wants to take on products and repair are very, very good.”

The plan also includes measures to introduce a common charger for smartphones — an effort that the European Union has long tried to implement, with little success — targets to reduce packaging, and a new framework to recycle batteries and textiles, among other measures.

Mr. Sinkevicius, the European commissioner, said the measures were essential if Europe was to meet its aim under the Green Deal: becoming a net zero emitter of greenhouse gases by 2050. “What we are trying to reach is a little bit different perception of the economic model,” he said this week.

But just as climate activists criticized the Green Deal as too vague, and for not setting a 2030 target, advocates like Mr. Schweitzer also faulted the European Commission for not setting broader, compulsory targets to reduce resource consumption.

“It’s not all negative,” Mr. Schweitzer said. “But where do we want the economy to be in the next couple of years? How much do we want to reduce our material or water footprint? We’re missing the big picture.”

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