In 2019, the European Commission adopted new guidelines for eco-design of products. Eco-design measures come into force in 2021, apply to large household appliances (LHA). The guidelines are intended to facilitate reuse, upgrading and recycling. Consumers can also take care of extending their lifespan with proper maintenance and repairs. We usually buy large kitchen appliances when renovating the kitchen or when the old ones are out of breath. Their lifespan is affected by the frequency of use, the brand of the product and regularity of maintenance. Data on the average lifespan of appliances vary, but it is known that the lifespan is shortening. The research carried out by the Ecological Institute of the University of Bonn (EIUB) highlighted the desire for new products of ¾ respondents. Between 2004 and 2013, the share of LHAs replaced with new ones due to failure increased from 3.5% to 8.3%. The study failed to uncover evidence of planned obsolescence, manufacturers instead consider product lifespan according to target groups, product usability, and production cycles. Eg. in the case of television, consumers expect new developments over a period of one year. The innovation cycle can be detrimental to quality, with some batches now being tested only on key vulnerabilities rather than comprehensively to speed up the testing process from a few months to a few weeks. The problem for the consumer is the lack of transparency, a developed system of marking the average service life in hours would help the most. So consumers, too, need to take their share of responsibility. We are replacing smartphones and televisions, although they are still working, but we would not stand in line for the latest refrigerator as for the latest phone. Therefore, in the project LIFE Turn to e-circular we are developing platforms for donation, sharing, exchange, borrowing.
Here are some practical methods for extending the life of household appliances:
- Refrigerators and freezers: regular cleaning of dust from the condenser, well-sealed rubber rim
- Dishwashers: regular use (at least every 2 days), filter cleaning, annual cleaning with vinegar
- Washing machine: washing without overloading the drum, cleaning the limescale with vinegar
- Microwave ovens: use for reheating, without long cooking
- Ovens: regular manual cleaning, not software
- Stoves, hobs: regular cleaning of surfaces