Green Party MEP Ciaran Cuffe is “reasonably confident” that legislation will pass in the European Parliament on Tuesday that will oblige manufacturers to repair goods.
Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland Mr Cuffe said there was “support across the board” in the Parliament for the legislation which would boost the repair sector and was a “real step forward on the circular economy.”
Under the legislation, manufacturers would have to provide spare parts for a longer period. “We’ve all had the experience of a dishwasher where a pipe is broken and the repair technician says, look, you’d be better off getting a new one. And I think it’s important not just to have the spare parts, but to have them at a reasonable price.”
“It (the legislation) will cover white goods like washing machines and dishwashers, but also mobile phones and even bicycles. I think it’s a real step forward. And on the circular economy, I think it will ensure that spare parts are available at a decent price and it will ensure that somebody who sells you a product will have an obligation to it to ensure it can be repaired for a much longer period of time.”
Mr Cuffe added that he anticipated a boost in the short term for products that will last longer and in the repair sector. “But really, it is a move away from planned obsolescence.
“It’s a move away from getting a new phone every three years. It’s a move away from having white goods that you’ll pay €500 for and when something goes wrong, you need to get a new one.
“So on the one hand, it’s a real boost for the consumer. But certainly manufacturers have lobbied hard against some of the provisions in this proposal.”
If the legislation is approved today in Strasbourg it will then move forward for more negotiations with the European Commission and the European Council, he said. “So I think the first provisions will come into effect later next year. So I think it will have an impact fairly soon on manufacturers.
“I think what we’re seeing is a real push from consumers that is succeeding at a European Union level. I think it will mean less waste, less products being dumped soon after they’re bought. And I think it’ll be an improvement for the environment, which can only be a win and it’ll mean less electronic waste being sent to the Far East to be melted down for re-use.
“We’ll see new jobs being created in Europe in the repair sector. And actually, I think there’s an opportunity for Ireland to move more into the repair sector and create jobs there. So I think it’s both a win for consumers, but also potentially a real win for creating jobs in what I like to call the green economy.”