What can we expect from the device repairability index?
Since January 1, a repairability index must appear on five categories of products including smartphones, computers and washing machines. The idea: to guide consumers towards
- The availability of technical documentation, the disassembly of the product, the availability of spare parts, and their price ... It is on these criteria that the repairability index, new for 2021, is based.
- This index - a score of 0 to 10 - is currently being tested on smartphones, TVs, laptops, washing machines, and lawnmowers. With the hope that it will guide consumers towards more responsible products and change manufacturers' processes.
- A revolution? Far too early to tell, respond both NGOs and manufacturers concerned, who speak of a potentially interesting tool. But with limits, starting with the fact that it currently only exists for France.
There was already the energy label, these ratings from A +++ to G which specify the energy performance of household appliances, with the idea of orienting consumers towards the most eco-responsible products. Since January 1, a new indicator has landed in France, at least in five categories of products chosen to test it: smartphones, laptops, televisions, washing machines, and lawnmowers.
This is the repairability index, a score from 0 to 10 that must appear on these products and inform consumers of the ease of repairing them. This score, calculated by the manufacturers themselves, is based on five criteria: availability of documentation, dismantling, availability of spare parts, their price. And a fifth criterion specific to each product (see box).
#GoodNews 2021- Didier Paris (@_DidierParis) January 12, 2021
Another measure of the anti-gaspiIlage law, a "repairability index #" will be displayed on certain electronics (smartphones or televisions) with a mark of 10 stamped on the product, its packaging or near the price.
👉 https://t.co/Cxta8yVT1S pic.twitter.com/sny2qJ53a4
Still barely visible on the shelves
The pictogram is still barely visible on the shelves. "The texts were published on December 31, but manufacturers need time to calculate their index reliably," explains Caroline Marcouyoux, CSR manager of the Alliance française des Entreprises du numérique (Afnum). The majority of our members should have calculated their indices by the end of the first quarter. »The indicereparabilite.fr site, launched by the Spareka company, a player in self-operation, references the rated products as they go. “For the moment, we have more washing machines than smartphones or computers,” indicates Etienne Curati, who manages this database. But indices of repairability fall every day and it is often the manufacturers themselves who inform us. "
The sign that they are playing the game? It was not won, listening to Alma Dufour, overproduction campaign manager at Friends of the Earth, one of the associations that participated in the two years of negotiations that led to this index. “There were points of tension,” she says. In particular, we had to fight for the index to include the repair price. This is a crucial point because it is the first obstacle today to repair in France: It is not enough that it is possible, but also that it is affordable. In the face, companies feared having to disclose information sensitive to competition.
Hopes for washing machines, doubts about smartphones?
In the end, both NGOs and professional organizations say they are generally satisfied with the calculation method. "The five criteria work and should make it possible to differentiate the products from each other," says Alexandrine Fadin, sustainable development manager of Gifam, which brings together, among others, washing machine manufacturers. With a warning all the same from Laëtita Vasseur, co-founder of the HOP association (Stop programmed obsolescence) : “This index should not become a greenwashing tool, with companies playing on additional parameters. to boost their score without attacking the heart of the matter: repairability, she says. This is why we insisted that the consumer can request the details of the calculation established by the manufacturers. "And from 2022 will start checks on fraud repression.
It remains to be seen how consumers will appropriate this new indicator. Alma Dufour has high hopes for washing machines. “There are many manufacturers in this market and you rarely have a brand in mind when you are about to buy one. "She is more skeptical about smartphones," where we are approaching an oligopoly, with a handful of big players and often very loyal customers. There are those who swear by Apple, others than Samsung… ”Not sure that the repairability index plays a big role in the choice of model. Reasoning that can be extended to computers and televisions? “Marketing studies tend to show that in digital products, consumers are first of all attentive to their price, then their functionalities, their design, and finally criteria such as the energy label, which exists for televisions, explains Caroline Marcouyoux. . But it is still too early to say. Everything will depend for example on the communication that the government will make around this new index. In any case, we will carefully study the effects of the reparability index on consumers' choice criteria. "
Few margins on the manufacturing process?
The repairability index could be added to the bottom of the list, giving manufacturers little incentive to make their products more repairable. Afnum and Gifam point to a limit to this new indicator anyway. "For the moment, it only exists for France, whereas the companies concerned work internationally and very often have only one production line for the whole of Europe", continues the CSR manager of the Afnum. “Therefore, short-term changes are more to be expected in commercial practices,” continues Caroline Marcouyoux. That is to say on the technical documentation or the availability of spare parts. "
Improvements at the margin? "We can have superb instructions, but if the device is not easily removable, it will be useless", summarizes Laëtitia Vasseur. The co-founder of Hop, like Alma Dufour, still invite to see this index as the first measure of a series expected in the coming years, which aim to promote repair in France. Like the repair fund from next year, and the durability index in 2024.
Stubborn brakes on the repair?
Because that's the whole paradox today: 81% of French people have a good image of repair, but only 36% repair or have their products repaired when they break down, pointed out a study by Ademe last March.
The repairability index could help remove some identified obstacles, such as the perceived cost of repairs, their complexity, or even the lack of information. But there are others over which he will not have a grip. Ademe points in particular to the disappearance of a large number of independent repairers, in particular in the household appliance sector (small and large) or televisions. In other words, if the number of repairs increases, will there be enough manpower to perform them? And what about cultural obsolescence, which consists of wanting to own the most recent model even if the current one still works? "The repairability index will not be of much use if we do not tackle this problem in parallel," insists Alma Dufour.
What are the five criteria used?
- The first concerns the availability of technical documentation. Do the manufacturers provide a comprehensive manual including in particular a disassembly diagram?
- The second concerns the disassembly of the product. In short: are the components removable? Can disassembly be done in a limited number of steps?
- The availability of spare parts over time and their delivery times. This criterion also takes into account to whom the manufacturers make these spare parts available. Including repairers and individuals?
- The price of the spare part, i.e. the ratio between the price of the most expensive spare part and the price of the original product.
- The fifth criterion is specific to the category of the product concerned. For washing machines, for example, it will take into account the presence or absence of a usage counter on the products, but also remote assistance or the possibility of software updates.