German environment agency demands lifespan labels for appliances

Published 25.06.2015 15:47

A plan to label electronic appliances with their expected lifespans won support Thursday from Germany's Environment Agency, which said the idea might reduce the number of gadgets we junk.

The agency said it has investigated allegations of "planned obsolescence," whereby manufacturers are alleged to build deliberate faults into appliances so they will fail and have to be replaced, but had found no evidence this really happens.

The agency said it believed manufacturers would make every device more durable if consumers could see in the shop how long it was meant to function, and for how many years a supply of spare parts would be guaranteed.

Higher-quality replaceable lamps are already rated by the number of hours they are expected to function for.

An agency specialist, Ines Oehme, said in a radio interview, "It wouldn't always be measured in years, but often in operating cycles, such as the number of washes with a washing machine."

"In almost every case, the durable product is the one that is more environmentally friendly," said Maria Krautzberger, head of the agency, in Berlin. She attacked the increasing rapidity of mobile-phone and television-set product cycles, saying it led to appliances being dumped although they function fine.

The agency, known by the acronym UBA, is to issue a detailed proposal on lifespan labels in August and will recommend legislation.

ZVEI, Germany's electronics manufacturing federation, criticized the idea, saying labels made little sense, since there could be no proof in advance how long a product could last.

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