The EU wants to force the likes of Apple and Samsung to make its phones easier to to repair, upgrade and recycle. The European commission recently proposed 'right to repair' legislation that would set technical standards to ensure all new phones, tablets and laptops consist of repairable, recyclable parts. The idea is to prevent premature obsolesce and what the EU calls 'take, use, discard' culture.
'Right to repair' is all part of the EU's ambition to become the world’s first carbon-neutral continent by 2050. As less than 40 per cent of electronic waste in the EU is thought to be recycled, extending the life cycle of phones, tablets and laptops could go a long way to achieving the commission's Greta Thunberg-friendly goals.
The EU has already rolled out a similar eco-design laws for TV, washing machines and dishwaters. Assuming all EU member states give 'right to repair' the stamp of approval, the new rules could come into law as soon as 2021 – along with a new scheme to make it easier for citizens to recycle old gadgets. This is in addition to the EU's recent proposal to introduce a universal charger for mobile devices.
A handful of brands are already ahead of the 'right to repair' curve. Fairphone bills itself as the world's most ethical and repairable smartphone maker, while AIAIAI introduced modular headphones back in 2015.