It's no secret that consumers are doing more to help the environment. With almost half of households recycling and 60% of internet users saying they'd pay more for products that are eco-friendly, it's safe to say that 'green sells'. The Competition and Markets Authority recently released guidance for all businesses on making green claims. 

In Great Britain in July 2021 new regulations came in  (Ecodesign Regulations) that obliged manufacturers of certain white goods and electrical products to provide repair information and spare parts to professional repairers. This is known as the 'right to repair'. The idea is to stop goods from going to landfills and to extend the lifespan of products. 

Spare parts must be available within 2 years of an appliance going on sale and up to 7-10 years (depending on the product) after the product has been discontinued. 

Which products are covered under Ecodesign?

  • Dishwashers
  • Washing machines and washer-dryers
  • Refrigeration appliances
  • Televisions and other electronic displays
  • Light sources
  • Electric motors
  • Refrigerators with a direct sales function 
  • Power transformers
  • Welding equipment

A consumer right or a right to a repair? 

In April 2015 the Consumer Rights Act (CRA) brought together the Sale of Good Act 1979 and the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. The CRA provides consumers with a right to a refund, repair or replacement if goods are found to not be of satisfactory quality (i.e. faulty), or are not as described. 

Essentially this means that a consumer has two rights to a repair. Both are against different parties (manufacturer or retailer), and one could be free for the consumer.

1) A professional repairer can request spare parts and repair information from a manufacturer when goods require repair. This is under the Ecodesign Regulations. A manufacturer could charge for the spare part and/or repair. 

2) A consumer can request a repair, replacement or refund (which can be anything, not just white goods or electricals) from a retailer if the goods are not of satisfactory quality. This is under the Consumer Rights Act. In some circumstances, the repair can be free for the consumer. 

What are consumers saying?

Retailers are reporting to the BRC that consumers are demanding a 'right to repair' so when is it under Ecodesign (which could be chargeable) or the Consumer Rights Act (which could be free)? 

Is it Ecodesign or Consumer Rights Act?

It's important to note that each consumer/professional repairer request should be assessed on its own merits but in general, we advise that:

1) If it's a wear and tear issue relating to an Ecodesign product, which the Cambridge Dictionary defines as:

"the damage that happens to an object in ordinary use during a period" 

Then it's likely to come under Ecodesign

2) If the fault is an inherent fault, meaning that the product suffers from a defective design issue, or does not meet the consumer's reasonable expectations in terms of use or quality then it's likely to come under the Consumer Rights Act.

Where can I find out more?

The BRC Buying Community has a Right to Repair Working Group. We work through retail issues around Right to Repair under Ecodesign. Current topics include:

- Storage of spare parts
- Supply chain issues around spare parts
- 'Professional Repairer' definition
- Consumer confusion between consumer remedies under the Consumer Rights Act and the Ecodesign Regulations

If you are a BRC member and wish to join this group contact me.