With the EU outlining a green deal that seeks to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, scrutiny has turned to the shelf life of gadgets that contribute to the barrage of e-waste produced annually on the continent. In a bid to tackle the junk problem, France last year voted to introduce an index of repairability for a variety of electronics, from washing machines to smartphones. Now that the law has come into effect, Apple (whose phones are notoriously hard to fix through DIY means) has started listing iPhone and MacBook repairability scores on its online store in France.
As reported by The Verge, the rating covers how easily a device can be disassembled and the availability of repair manuals and spare parts. The otherwise stellar iPhone 12 range received a sub-par repairability score of 6/10 under the new index. Links to the full list of rated products are viewable on Apple's support page (in French). Other ratings for the company's products vary in terms of release date and category. Last year’s iPhone 11s are rated between 4.5 and 4.6, while MacBook scores range from 5.6 to 7.
Starting in January, manufacturers in France started displaying color-coded labels carrying the scores on their products in shops and online. The anti-waste law is designed to keep shoppers abreast of the lifespan of their electronics to encourage them to choose longer-lasting items. Fines for non-compliance are expected to be introduced next year.
Though the system is based on strict guidelines, Radio France Internationale notes that it isn't without its flaws: Manufacturers supply their own scores and can easily gain points by offering simple information on software updates. For instance, Samsung gave its Galaxy S21 Plus phone a better score than last year's model by offering an online repair guide, reports Le Monde.
According to an EC survey, citizens support the sustainability drive, with 77 percent claiming they would prefer to repair a device over replacing it. In addition, 79 percent believe that manufacturers should make their products simpler to fix by providing easier access to individual parts. The EU, which already utilizes energy rating labels for appliances, has also been voting to push through repairability reforms in the latest sign that the so-called "right to repair" movement is building steam.
E-waste is expected to grow to more than 52 million tonnes by the end of 2021. Smartphones, which can contain toxic metals such as arsenic and organic chemicals, are some of the worst offenders. Many are not recycled properly, often ending up on dumpsites overseas in Africa and Asia.