European Commission announces plan for collection, reuse and repair of mobile phones

The European Commission announced it will look at eco-design and sustainable products, in particular circular electronics. This would include improving the collection, reuse and repair of mobile phones.

In 2021 the European Commission plans to present:

  • a legislative proposal on Sustainable products policy initiative
  • a revision of the Ecodesign Directive
  • a legislative proposal for 'New design requirements and consumer rights for electronics
  • a (non-legislative) plan on Circular Electronics.

Source: European Commission Work Programme 2021.


Action speaks louder than words. So far, this is simply lip service.

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Sure. But, the whole idea of proposing legislation is to impose certain actions or prevent it, depending. Or do you argue that voluntary schemes / self-regulation is
more effective?


The companies have self-regulated themselves already to the extend they wish, I guess… I hope the result is rather improving the lifetime of the phones, than just another deposit solution like for PET bottles in Germany :tada:

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It will be interesting to follow what solutions will be proposed by the Commission and if those will be effective and really raise the bar. Ideally I guess it should reflect the efforts of leading companies in this field (FP) and not business as usual to accommodate the rest of the industry.


Fittingly, Fraunhofer people published the next draft of “Ecodesign preparatory study on mobile phones, smartphones and tablets” - “Users (demand side)” on the 21st Oct. You can find it here (and the other topics of the series “Technologies / Scope / Market”).

I just skimmed the Users draft for “software” search hits, as this is my agenda: importance of “repairing the software” after the manufacturer doesn’t release new firmware. When buying refurbed/used Devices, after a new battery, having current software came second as factor (Page 43).

My point is - you can repair all you want, if a vendor didn’t release updated firmware in the last year for your 4-5 year old device, you’re stranded. The directives say that everything needed for repair needs to be disclosed - also software. I wonder how this will be implemented. If releasing with permissive/copyleft open source license including build toolchain gets mandatory. That is what I want :slight_smile:


Today the European Parliament is discussing its report ‘Towards a more sustainable single market for business and consumers’.

If adopted on Wednesday and then taken on board by the European Commission, this could pave the way to a more sustainable industry and benefits for consumers.

‘Since the largest part of a product’s carbon footprint is attributable to the manufacturing process, it is essential that we rethink our manufacturing system and move towards truly sustainable products. Smartphones are a well-known case in point: 80 % of a device’s carbon footprint is generated during its manufacture and only 15 % of phones are collected and recycled at the end of their life.’

The European Parliament wants to ban ‘practices aimed at intentionally shortening the lifetime of a product, such as preventing repair at the design stage or causing a slowdown in performance after a software update (planned obsolescence), and preventing greenwashing.

Another relevant point for is that the Parliament insists that the Commission take account of it’s decisions concerning the establishment of a common charger system, in order to reduce production volumes and electronic waste.

Similar attempts to improve legislation have been blocked by industry lobby before

See draft report European Parliament

The (often plain and borring) plenary discussions on this file can be followed live here today (23/11/2020 at 17:00):

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It’ll be amazing to have a common charger system for every device within a certain range of power, both smartphones, laptop and others. It fills like USB Power Delivery can allow that (up to 100w).


Although this isn’t directed specifically at mobile phones, the Topic ‘Right to Repair’ was redirected here.

1st July 2021.

Right to repair rules will extend lifespan of products, government says.
From Thursday, (21st July 2021) manufacturers will have to make spares available to consumers, with the aim of extending the lifespan of products by up to 10 years, it said.
Right to repair rules will extend lifespan of products, government says - BBC News

Although this is only UK legislation, which I haven’t read, in the context of mobile phones, it could be seen that Fairphone would be obligated to extend spares for any FP3+ sold today until 2031.

Better get on the support and software upgrades then.
I’s OK Fairphone, just joking, I’m sure mobile phones are exempt :slight_smile:

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Slightly related news:

FTC to Ramp Up Law Enforcement Against Illegal Repair Restrictions. Commission unanimously adopts policy statement aimed at restoring Right to Repair for small businesses, workers, consumers, and government entities


Today, the European Commission adopted a new proposal on common rules promoting the repair of goods, which will result in savings for consumers and support the objectives of the European Green Deal by reducing waste, among others. Over the last decades, replacement has often been prioritised over repair whenever products become defective and insufficient incentives have been given to consumers to repair their goods when the legal guarantee expires. The proposal will make it easier and more cost-effective for consumers to repair as opposed to replace goods. Additionally, more demand will translate into a boost to the repair sector while incentivising producers and sellers to develop more sustainable business models.