New European Rules Aim to End Throwaway Culture

The European Commission has announced a plan to require manufacturers to make products that last longer and are easier to repair and reuse — an attempt to curb the “throwaway culture” that has fueled greenhouse gas emissions, resource extraction, and pollution. The new rules would take effect by 2021.

“The linear growth model of ‘take, make, use discard’ has reached its limits,” Virginijus Sinkevičius, European commissioner for the environment, told reporters. “With the growth of the world population and consumption, this linear model pushes us closer and closer to a resource crisis. The only way ahead is decoupling economic growth from extraction of primary resources and their environmental impacts.”

The new plan would require manufacturers of phones, tablets, and laptops to incorporate more changeable and repairable parts in their designs. The European Commission already requires such standards for TVs, dishwashers, and washing machines, according to The Guardian.

The proposal would also push clothing manufacturers to better recycle and reuse textiles; require that all packaging be reusable or recyclable by 2030; and consider new guidelines on exporting waste from Europe. All of the initiatives are part of a larger strategy by the European Commission to develop a “circular economy,” which experts say is necessary if the European Union hopes to achieve its target of zero emissions by 2050.