As part of the implementation of the EU action plan for the Circular Economy, the European Commission has carried out a study for the analysis and development of a possible scoring system to inform about the ability to repair and upgrade products. The overall aims of the study, described in the present report, are:
1) To develop a general approach for the assessment of the ability to repare/upgrade energy related products (ErP);
2) To test the feasibility and types of results derived using the general approach on three specific product groups (Laptops, Vacuum Cleaners and Washing Machines).
Building on the experience gained by CEN-CENELEC-JTC10 during the development of prEN 45554, a general framework has been proposed that provides technical guidance for the identification of most relevant aspects and priority parts for products on the market, as well as for scoring and aggregating different aspects of repair and upgrade.
A limited number of technical parameters have been selected which cover design characteristics and relevant operational aspects related to the repair/upgrade of products. Purely economic parameters are out of the scope of this study but they are addressed indirectly by the selected parameters since these can have an influence on the cost of repair/upgrade operations.
The assessment of products has been simplified by focusing, when relevant, on priority parts, to be defined on a product group basis taking into account aspects such as the frequency of failure/upgrade, the functional importance of parts, as well as qualitative information.
The assessment framework is composed of:
a) Pass/fail criteria that products have to fulfil in order to be considered as reparable/upgradable, and thus eligible for being assessed through the scoring criteria;
b) Scoring criteria, to rate the extent to which products are reparable or upgradable.
Scores can be aggregated and reported in different types of indices, which could be more or less suitable based on the final application of the scoring system. However, it was recognised that background information used for their quantification should be also provided for transparency reasons.
In order to understand specific aspects and needs for different types/groups of products, the general framework has been theoretically applied to three illustrative product groups: laptops, vacuum cleaners and washing machines. The assessment has been kept practical by focusing on key parameters for the analysed product groups.
This scoring system could serve as a technical reference for potential use in policy-making (e.g. Ecodesign, Energy Label, GPP, Ecolabel), for the design of a new label, or as public guidance document (for designers and consumer testing organisations). However, the study itself does not propose or pre-empt any future policy decision. Moreover, the scoring system may need to be revised periodically, in the logic of continuous methodological improvement and adaptation to changing market conditions. The applicability of the system should be also supported by future investigation aiming at:
- The analysis of how consumers can understand different types of information related to the repair/upgrade of products;
- The analysis of the performance of real products on the market to understand how parameters, rating and weighting of the scoring system should be adjusted, and how frequently they should be updated over time.
Finally, it has also to be observed that different aspects should be evaluated in a preliminary phase to understand which are the best material efficiency strategies to implement for a specific product (e.g. similar levels of benefits could be achieved either designing more reliable products that last longer, or that can be repaired/upgraded more easily). Durability of a product is relevant as long as a product has actually an extended service life. Reliability, reparability and upgradability are all durability aspects targeted to extending the service lifetime of products and tightly linked to each other. Also in the cases in which reliability could have higher importance, reparability and upgradability can be still complementary to extend the lifetime of products.