New study shows how ecodesign can deliver better products

Wednesday 9 November 2016
New study shows how ecodesign can deliver better products

Yesterday the European Commission promised action to make products more durable, repairable, and recyclable.
Today a study shows just how smart design can make this a reality and transform our products.
It highlights that easily broken, hard to repair products frustrate consumers, cost more money and create unnecessary waste.
The analysis, from UK think tank Green Alliance, shows that a world where smartphone screens don’t crack, washing machines can be fixed rather than having to be replaced and solar panels can be reused rather than crushed at the end of their first life is not fantasy. It highlights that ecodesign standards offer the double win of better and cheaper products for consumers while saving valuable resources.
It states that a simple shift in the rules could deliver a wider range of better quality products for consumers. For example, ecodesign standards could ensure more durable smartphones, guaranteeing screens that are much less likely to break, and are quicker and cheaper to replace when they do.
The European Commission announced yesterday that they would be bringing forward plans to apply ecodesign to building automation controls, hand dryers, lifts, solar panels, refrigerated containers, and kettles, and broaden ecodesign beyond energy saving to cover resource efficiency. But everyday devices such as smartphones, toasters and hair dryers were left off the list.
Speaking at the report launch in Brussels, co- author of the study, Dustin Benton, said:
“Right now, consumers across Europe are getting a raw deal on product quality. It’s great that the Commission is finally acting on this issue, but consumers need better design for many products, not just a few. It’s not complicated: simple design changes make the difference between long lasting products and premature obsolescence.”


Simon Wilson, senior representative, Green Alliance, and co-ordinator, ACES, 0032 476 402 384


[1] Key facts highlighted in the study:

• 21% of users currently have a cracked screen
• 80% of standard glass screens break when phones are dropped
• The best screens only break 20% of the time

Washing machines

• The average lifetime of a washing machine has fallen by a third between 2000 and 2010, with a machine now lasting only seven years
• One in six machines fail in the first five years
• Designing replaceable components can make repair ten times cheaper

Solar panels

• Only 2% of the value of solar panels is currently recovered by recycling
• Designs using thermoplastics allows solar cells to be recovered and reused rather than crushed

[2] The study, Better products by design is published today. Green Alliance is part of the Alliance for Circular Economy Solutions (ACES) a progressive new collaboration of British, Dutch and German businesses and think tanks committed to ambitious circular economy policy in Europe.

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