UK to legislate to tackle short lifespan of electrical appliances

Tougher rules will oblige manufacturers to make spare parts available and help consumers save £75 a year on their energy bills

The Big Zero report

Washing machines, TVs and fridges will soon become cheaper to run and last longer after plans for new legislation have been unveiled by the government.

Under the new legislation, from this summer manufacturers will be required to make spare parts for products available, helping to extend the lifespan of products by up to ten years.

The new tougher rules for how much energy electrical appliances use aim to help save consumers £75 a year on their energy bills.

The plan is predicted to slash eight megatonnes of carbon emissions in 2021 by minimising the amount of energy products consume over their lifetime.

That is the equivalent of removing all emissions from Birmingham and Leeds every year.

The string of new measures is designed to tackle what is called ‘premature obsolescence’, a short lifespan intentionally created by manufacturers that leads to costly repairs for customers and an increasing amount of e-waste.

Official figures reveal the UK generates around 1.5 million tonnes of e-waste every year.

In the meantime, new energy labels have also been introduced which make the way energy efficiency is displayed simpler.

Business and Energy Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, said: “Our plans to tighten product standards will ensure more of our electrical goods can be fixed rather than thrown on the scrap heap, putting more money back in the pockets of consumers whilst protecting the environment.

“Going forward, our upcoming energy efficiency framework will push electrical products to use even less energy and material resources, saving people money on their bills and reducing carbon emissions as we work to reach net zero by 2050.

Climate Change Minister, Lord Callanan, said: “We can all play our part in ending our contribution to climate change, even when we’re choosing a new electrical appliance.”

Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, said: “Cracking down on planned obsolescence in electrical items is key to tackling the e-waste tsunami, and I applaud the government for taking this step.

“As our committee highlighted during our recent e-waste inquiry, 155,000 tonnes of e-waste is chucked away in household bins by Brits every year with no hope of salvaging the item or the precious metals they may contain.

“Often these metals are integral for net zero Britain: crucial for wind turbines, electric vehicles and solar panels.

“There should be no contest, consumers should have every right to fix items they own. Making spare parts available is the first step in creating a circular economy where we use, reuse and recycle products.

“We must stop using and disposing quite so much: we must take action if we are to protect the environment for generations to come.”

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