TCO calls for regulations to support right to repair


By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Wednesday, 21 July, 2021

TCO calls for regulations to support right to repair

TCO Development — administer of the TCO Certified sustainability certification — is calling for new regulations that require manufacturers to make product repair a more viable option for consumers.

During testimony to the Productivity Commission’s public hearings into the right to repair, TCO Development Director of Purchaser Engagement Clare Hobby said the proposed regulations will be key to creating a more sustainable, circular approach to the electronics lifecycle in Australia.

Hobby also advocated for the introduction of a mandated index that shows potential buyers the repairability of products under consideration.

According to Hobby, TCO’s research shows that extending product lifecycles is the best approach to both e-waste prevention and reducing the climate impact of IT. For example, a 2020 study of notebook computers found that almost 80% of a product’s lifetime emissions occur in the manufacturing phase.

In her written submission to the consultation, Hobby said there are a number of barriers to repair that must be overcome to ensure these sustainability gains.

These include challenges involving batteries often being difficult to replace — leading to premature end of life for IT products and disposal of still functioning products — as well as the price of repair, which is often comparable to the purchase of a new product.

The lack of availability of components, schematics and repair manuals also serves as a barrier to repair. The submission also cites the “continuing problem of untrue claims that certain products are unsafe to open up and repair”, as well as an overall lack of focus on circularity from both industry and users.

“Beyond the right to repair itself, which is likely to introduce more transparency as well as market mechanisms to extend the lifetime of IT products, there’s also a critical role for enterprises and public sector agencies to shape product design by demanding more repairable products from their vendors,” Hobby said.

“Procurement managers need to consistently signal to hardware vendors that extended life, repairability and e-waste prevention are priority areas that they plan to address in product sourcing.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/AndriiKoval

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