EU proposes regulations for tablet battery life, spare parts

Rules for devices including phones aimed at reducing environmental impact of scroll addiction

The European Union is proposing legislation which will make manufacturers of tablets and smartphones offer longer-life batteries and spare parts for at least five years after the model is removed from the market.

The regulations for "laying down ecodesign requirements for mobile phones, cordless phones and slate tablets" will also require phones to label their energy efficiency, such as battery endurance and resistance to drops.

"The steep increase in the demand for smartphones and tablets, combined their increased functionality, has resulted in increased demand for energy and materials needed to manufacture these devices on the EU market, accompanied by an increase in their associated environmental impacts," the document states.

Fifteen component parts should be made available for at least five years after the device leaves the market, and batteries should survive at least 500 full charges without deteriorating to below 83 percent of their capacity

"In addition, devices are often replaced prematurely by users and are, at the end of their useful life, not sufficiently reused or recycled, leading to a waste of resources. Against this background, the preparatory study identified environmental aspects to be addressed in this Regulation. Those aspects mainly concern resource efficiency and include the avoidance of premature obsolescence, repairability, reliability of the products and their key components such as batteries and display, reusability and recyclability."

Fifteen component parts should be made available for at least five years from the date of the device's introduction to the market and batteries should survive at least 500 full charges without deteriorating to below 83 percent of their capacity, according to officials commenting on the proposals.

Designed to reduce environmental impact of the ubiquitous electronic devices, a preparatory European Commission study showed that the legal requirements should "relate to design for reliability, including resistance to accidental drops, scratch resistance, protection from dust and water, and battery longevity, to the ability to be disassembled and repaired, to the availability of operating system version upgrades, to data deletion and the transfer of functionalities after use, to the provision of appropriate information for users, repairers and recyclers as well as to battery endurance."

While these proposals only apply in the EU for now, an interesting precedent suggests they may be relevant in the US. A move to standardize charging cables, led by the EU, has now been taken up in the US Senate.

Commerce secretary Gina Raimondo, Massachusetts senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, along with Bernie Sanders (I-VT) say a proliferation of charging standards has created a messy situation for consumers, as well as being an environmental risk. ®

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