New “right to repair” regulations due Summer 2021

Published on 09 June 2021

The question

What requirements will manufacturers and importers of consumer goods, particularly electronic displays, need to meet under new “right to repair” rules?

Key takeaway

Manufacturers and importers of electronic displays will have to provide information and spare parts to consumers and professional repairers in order to better facilitate the circular economy. The new regulations are likely to come into force in Summer 2021.

The background

Following a consultation that ended in November 2020, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published its response to the eco-design and energy consumer information requirements for electrical goods (10 March 2021). Specifically, the consultation sought views on, amongst other things, energy labelling, resource efficiency, circular economy and professional repairer registers. BEIS has proposed eco-design requirements for consumer electrical goods, set to come into force in England, Scotland and Wales in Summer 2021.

BEIS intends to provide draft regulations to Parliament during Spring 2021, with a view for the new regulations to apply to the products discussed in the consultation from Summer 2021.

The development

Amongst many new eco-design requirements for consumer electrical goods, including higher minimum energy performance standards and new material efficiency and information requirements, the proposals seek to improve access to spare parts for certain electronics and maintenance information to enable repairs by consumers.

Essentially, BEIS is highlighting the need for companies to better facilitate the circular economy. While white goods are the focus of the consultation, it also includes electronic displays, which are prominently used in TVs, smart phones and other Internet of Things devices. All will have to comply with the proposed regulations.

  • The draft regulations include, amongst others, the following requirements for electronic displays:
  • any electronic displays will have to conform to specific eco-design requirements (discussed further below)
  • the energy consumption of electronic displays must not deteriorate after a software or firmware update without consent from the user
  • the performance of an electronic display must not deteriorate without the user’s consent.

The eco-design requirements for electronic displays include:

  • ensuring that all displays are fastened to any device in a way that does not prevent its removal using commonly available tools
  • making available, on a publicly accessible website and without charge, the dismantling information needed to access any of the products’ components, including specific steps and required tools
  • the manufacturer or importer must provide access to the appliance repair and maintenance information to professional repairers no later than two years after the first time a display is put on the market
  • ensuring delivery of spare parts for electronic displays within 15 working days of receiving an order
  • making available the latest available version of the firmware for a minimum period of eight years after the after placing the last unit of the model on the market.

Why is this important?

The new regulations will create an improved ecosystem for the repair of goods, including requirements on provision of information and spare parts. Electronic items with displays are not cheap, and BEIS’s proposals signal a push to give consumers greater protection over their investments.

Any practical tips?

Manufacturers and importers of these consumer electronics with electronic displays need to quickly get to grips with the new regulations. It is a big development for manufacturers and importers of consumer goods with electronic displays and one that will need significant planning in advance, including from a design perspective.

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