Manufacturers are now legally required to make spare parts available to people buying electrical appliances, under new ‘right to repair’ rules which came into force on July 1 of this year.
The aim of the regulations, which affect washing machines, washer-dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, TVs and other electronic displays, is to extend the lifespan of products by up to 10 years and benefit the environment by producing less waste.
According to the UK Government, this will reduce the 1.5 million tonnes of electrical waste generated each year.
The right to repair rules are designed to tackle “built-in obsolescence” on new appliances, whereby they have been designed to break down after a certain length of time. This practice encourages consumers to buy new ones.
The new rules apply to products bought from July 1, but manufacturers have a grace period of up to two years to make spare parts available.
Commenting on the ‘right to repair’ legislation, Paul Hide, chief executive of AMDEA, the UK trade association for manufacturers of small and large domestic appliances, said: “The new ‘right to repair’ requirements are fully supported by all AMDEA members. These regulations were agreed across the EU more than two years ago and were developed in consultation with appliance manufacturers.
“In practice, most reputable manufacturers already comply with most if not all of these requirements, in terms of maintaining the availability of spare parts for up to 10 years.”
He added: “Manufacturers always strive to ensure products are repairable, where there is a demand to do so. Product design and manufacture have to balance the three parameters of performance, cost and repairability, and there will always be a balance between these in bringing products to market that best meet the user needs and their budget.”
Consumer watchdog Which? highlighted that, in addition to washing machines and washer-dryers, refrigeration appliances, TVs and other electronic displays, the ‘right to repair’ legislation also applies to “non-consumer electronics”, such as light sources, electric motors, refrigerators with a direct sales function (e.g. fridges in supermarkets, vending machines for cold drinks), power transformers and welding equipment. Cookers, hobs, tumble dryers, microwaves or technology such as laptops or smartphones aren’t covered.
“The spare parts are divided into those that are for trickier repairs, so only available to professionals, and those for easier fixes, so are available to everyone,” reported Which?
“For example, a tricky repair such as replacing a dishwasher’s drain pump will be available to the pros, while an easier and safer fix, such as fitting new drain filters, will be available to everyone. This follows a change in the official energy label, removing the A+++ ratings and resetting the scale to run from A to G.”
AMDEA’s Mr Hide commented: “In relation to regulations concerning repairs, safety is the primary concern for all manufacturers. Repairs should always be carried out by qualified personnel, using manufacturer-specified parts. It should always be stressed that it is a significant risk to safety for an untrained individual to attempt an appliance repair on a major domestic appliance.”