Liberté, égalité, reparabilité.
Electronic devices have a serious environmental toll, and one of the best ways to mitigate that is to use them for as long as possible before replacing them. But it’s hard to know how long a new gadget will last if you’re unsure how easy it will be to fix. Now, companies are going to have to start coming clean about that - in France, at least.
In a world-first move, France has begun the process of requiring makers of certain electronic devices, including smartphones and laptops, to tell consumers how repairable their products are. Manufacturers selling these devices in France must give their products a score, or “repairability index,” based on a range of criteria, including how easy it is to take the product apart and the availability of spare parts and technical documents.
While France won’t be enforcing use of the index with fines until next year, some companies have already begun releasing scores for their products.
The repairability index represents part of France’s effort to combat planned obsolescence, the intentional creation of products with a finite life-span that need to be replaced frequently, and transition to a more circular economy where waste is minimized. But it also has global implications. Repair advocates say that the index will serve as a litmus test for other nations weighing similar regulations, help consumers make better choices, and hopefully incentivize companies to manufacture more repairable devices.