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EU Parliament approves rules requiring companies to repair worn-out products

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Parliament approved rules on Tuesday to give consumers the right to have worn-out products like washing machines and smartphones repaired by producers, to cut waste and make goods last longer.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

The European Union policy would oblige manufacturers to offer repairs for fridges, vacuum cleaners, televisions, washing machines and other goods that are deemed "repairable" under EU law and sold within the bloc.

Consumers will gain the right to choose either a repair - or a replacement - for faulty products while the product is still under guarantee. If a product is repaired, its guarantee would be extended by 12 months.

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After the guarantee has expired, consumers can still claim a repair - for free, or at a "reasonable" price, defined as one that considers costs for spare parts and labour, but does not disincentivise choosing a repair over throwing away the product.

The EU would also ban manufacturers from using software or hardware that obstructs repairs. National governments would be able to impose penalties on companies that do not comply.

BY THE NUMBERS

The European Commission said 35 million metric tons of waste and 260 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions are generated each year, as a result of still-usable consumer goods being thrown away.

KEY QUOTE

German lawmaker René Repasi said: "It will be easier and cheaper to repair instead of purchase new, expensive items. This is a significant achievement for Parliament and its commitment to empower consumers in the fight against climate change."

WHAT'S NEXT

The EU Parliament approved the law with a large majority of 584 votes in favour, just three against, and 14 abstentions.

It still needs approval from EU countries to enter into force - a final step that is usually a formality which approves laws with no changes.

(Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)