How Europe’s new ‘green plans’ may be bad news for Apple, Samsung and others

The European Union wants electronic manufacturers to go sustainable under its Circular Economy Action Plan 2020 As per the latest draft proposals, European regulators want smartphones and tablets to last long and be durable.
The Financial Times reports that the regulators plan to force smartphone manufacturers to provide at least 15 spare parts to professionals for a minimum of 5 years from its launch. So that customers can easily get their phones repaired if they want to and will not be forced to upgrade.
What is Circular Economy Action Plan 2020 and what draft says
For those unaware, Circular Economy aims to stop waste being produced in the first place. It is based on three principles, driven by design: Eliminate waste and pollution; circulate products and materials (at their highest value); and Regenerate nature. With the recent draft proposal, the EU aims to reduce the carbon footprint that the phones leave behind them after being dumped.
According to the European Environmental Bureau, extending the life of phones by five years would be equivalent to saving 10 million tonnes of CO2 emission or removing 5 million cars from the roads of Europe. The regulators argue that if phones and tablets are made more repairable and recyclable, the energy consumed during their production can be cut by a third. “Devices are often replaced prematurely by users and are, at the end of their useful life, not sufficiently reused or recycled, leading to a waste of resources,” reads the draft proposal.
Not just that, regulators want manufacturers to use batteries to survive at least 500 charges without deteriorating to below 83 per cent. Furthermore, phones would have to show an energy efficiency label, similar to what you see on home appliances. Even manufacturers will be forced to ensure that software updates do not adversely affect the battery life.
Devices that are not part of the new rule
As of now, the draft proposal covers smartphones, standard phones and tablets. However, smartphones with folding displays “which the user can unroll and roll up partly or fully,” are exempted from complying with these regulations. The devices that do not match the EU’s standard for sustainability will be removed from the market.
Meanwhile, smartphone manufacturers think differently as they plead that requiring more parts to be available increases plastic consumption.
Digital Europe, a European trade organisation with members including Apple, Samsung, Google and Xiaomi, says, “A potential overproduction, subsequent warehousing and destruction of spare parts will naturally result in wasted resources, reduced material efficiency and negative economic value ultimately resulting in higher costs for the consumer.”
This is another big blow from European regulators to smartphone manufacturers, but it affects all. In June, the EU made it mandatory to use a standardised charger, likely USB C, by 2024 for all the products sold in the European market.

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