The EESC fully backs the objective of switching to a greener, resource-efficient and circular economy. It is happy to see that the Commission has come forward with a broader set of proposals covering all the stages of the product lifecycle compared to the previous circular economy package; however, it raises concern over the lower level of ambition, which is likely to lead to lower economic and environmental benefits.
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In this opinion, the EESC calls for society to begin an economic transition from over-exploitation of resources and a throw-away culture to a more sustainable, job-rich era, based on quality rather than quantity. In order to cope with the fundamental shift to a new economic model with major systemic consequences in many areas, it is recommended that a new cross-cutting and permanent body be set up in the EESC to analyse these developments.
The opinion familiarizes the public with the phenomenon of collaborative consumption (CC). The document presents the conceptual approach and describes briefly best practices in CC. The EESC proposes also a general strategy for the sound development of CC in the EU. Given that CC covers mostly bottom-up initiatives, studies are needed before the appropriate regulations, rights and responsibilities of all the stakeholders involved can be established.
Planned obsolescence is associated with a form of industrial production that relies on a minimum renewal rate for its products. Although product renewal is necessary, certain abuses need to be addressed. The EESC would like to see a total ban on products with built-in defects designed to end the product's life.
On 2 July the European Commission launched a package of policy strategies and legislative proposals Towards a circular economy – a zero waste programme for Europe The European Economic and Social Committee, is currently preparing an opinion on the Commission circular economy policy package in order to contribute to this debate.
In this regard on 22 September 2014 the EESC will organise in Brussels a public hearing on circular economy.
Did you know that when buying a TV, it may be made to die in a few years' time? Bulbs that burn out after a certain time, batteries that run out within a set period are a few examples of "planned obsolescence". The CCMI section of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) held a round table event on "Planned obsolescence" on 17 October 2014. It gathered industrials, trade unions and customers to get a better grasp on this topic.
To address planned obsolescence, protect consumers and boost the transition to a circular economy, in 2013 the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) called for a total ban on products with built-in defects designed to prematurely end a product's life. It recommended that better information to consumers on the lifespan of products should be established. On the basis of this opinion – the first European text on this topic – the European Parliament voted in July 2017 on a resolution for
a longer lifetime for products: benefits for consumers and companies.
The EESC has produced a large number of opinions during the 2010-2015 mandate on subjects relating to new production and consumption patterns. These include the opinions on built-in obsolescence, collaborative consumption and the circular economy. When it comes to the main pillars underpinning the new economic model for change, the theme of the functional economy, defined as the sale of use rather than of ownership, is the only issue not yet to have been addressed by the committee.
Many consumer products could have a longer service-life. However, particularly in the IT and household appliance sectors, some components seem to be designed to become obsolete so that the product becomes unusable after a certain period of time or rely on the use of specific consumable items. This has a number of damaging consequences: the cost to consumers of early replacement of the product or dependence to expensive consumable items, the overuse of natural resources and raw materials.