21 October, Brussels – The challenge of how to increase product durability was addressed at a conference in the European Parliament this week, organised by the Greens/EFA group. Extending the life-span of products requires a change in behaviour from both manufacturers and consumers, argued MEP Pascal Durand, who co-hosted the event.
Producers are often guilty of making low quality products, or products that are hard to repair, which last only a few years. Sylvia Maurer, from consumer group BEUC, called upon the EU to force manufacturers to make products more durable. The EU could legislate to ensure that all new products are easily repairable and upgradable, to increase their life-span.
Miquel Ballester, from social enterprise Fairphone, argued that a change in consumer mind-set is also necessary. More effort should be made to make citizens aware of the negative environmental and social impacts of the products they buy. Consumers may then put extra pressure on producers to design more durable products, or choose to buy more durable items.
Longer product life-times were described as a ‘win-win’ for the EU, with panellists also discussing the extra jobs, such as in repair services, that would be created in a more circular economy.