Planned obsolescence is a design practice, largely found in electronic goods, that creates products with an intentionally short lifespan in order to encourage increased and regular replacements.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) recently consulted on a range of potential eco-design measures, that if adopted will reflect progress made in the EU.
The consultation covered a variety of domestic and industrial electronic products, including dishwashers and televisions, and a summary of responses is expected to be published soon. This forms part of a wider governmental ambition to encourage circularity and longevity of electronic products, part of which is to encourage repairability in a move to reduce planned obsolescence.
Measures promoting circularity are expected to form a significant part of this year’s consultation on reforming the current WEEE legislation, and may well inform future target setting methodology.
Durability and reparability
Parliamentary under-secretary in BEIS Paul Scully has stated that such measures "Aim to improve the resource efficiency of energy related products and this will include ensuring that spare parts are available for a minimum of seven years after the placing of new products on the market."
They will also ensure that parts can be replaced with the use of commonly available tools, tackling premature obsolescence. "We are also seeking powers through the environment bill that will enable government to require products to carry information for example relating to product lifetimes, durability and reparability."
France has already implemented regulatory tools to tackle short product lifespans, and within other international WEEE regimes it is high on the agenda. We can confidently expect that the consultations, planned to be released in quarter two of this year, will propose several policy interventions to change the way electronic equipment designed and manufactured. This is particularly considering the Environmental Audit Committee’s report published last year, urging Government to take action.
As always we will update our members on future consultations and legislative reform. In the meantime, if you have any questions about future WEEE producer responsibility, please contact our team.
As Policy advisor Louisa provides key support to our team, including preparing reports on environmental policy issues and maintaining awareness of new developments. As such she will often be found coordinating responses to policy consultations, advocating policy positions and providing internal guidance to current legislation.