We are calling for the destruction of unsold electronic products to stop!

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SETEM Catalunya, as members of the European Right to Repair campaign, we join in the letter addressed to European parliamentarians, calling for the new European Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation to ban the destruction of unsold electronic and textile products, along with 45 other NGOs throughout Europe.

The destruction of unsold products represents the most wasteful scenario conceivable in a linear economy. Throughout the process of manufacturing these products there are strong social and environmental impacts: water pollution, extraction of raw materials, pollution caused by distribution, precarious working conditions in the textile and electronic sector, among others.

Electric and electronic equipment remains one of the fastest growing waste streams in the EU, with an annual growth rate of 2%. In addition, these are toxic waste, and the collection rate is still low (less than 40% of electronic waste is recycled in the EU (2)). Closely related digital services account for 4.2% of European GHG emissions, of which 54% comes from the manufacture of electronic equipment (3).

Analysis from France suggests that around 1% of all electronic appliances remain unsold and
destroyed each year.i In the case of just microwaves and kettles alone, it is estimated that
98,000 and 140,000 units are destroyed respectively each year. For these two products this
represents 25,000 tonnes of CO2eq, 690 tonnes of steel, 110 tonnes of glass, 2 million litres
of water annually (4).

Ending the destruction of unsold goods will bring a number of benefits:
Reducing environmental impacts and preventing waste from the textile and EEE
Promoting industrial design and management innovation towards ending
overproduction in the first place
Remaining unsold goods provide an opportunity for secondary markets, for example
feeding refurbishers and social economy actors with new products and parts
Supporting strategic autonomy by reducing Europe’s economic dependency on natural
resource depletion, including for Critical Raw Materials

The economic opportunity of finding new markets and utility for unsold products should not be
underestimated. Projections show the value of destroyed electronics and clothing in the EU
will amount to €21.74 billion by 2022, which is larger than the entire GDP of Cyprus for the
year 2020. If no policy measures are taken, this could increase to up to €71.29 billion by 2030, as much as the revenue generated by the entire German ecommerce market in 2019.(5).

Read English letter here.

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1. ADEME (2021). Etude des gisements et causes des invendus non alimentaires et de leurs voies d’écoulement. (including footwear)
2. Eurostat (2023) Waste Statistics – Electrical and Electronic Equipment.
3. GreenIT.fr. (2021) Digital technologies in Europe: an environmental life cycle approach (summary report).
4. Cambridge Econometrics (2023) New EU eco-design proposals: case studies to illustrate their potential impact.
5. Okopol (2021) Policy brief on Prohibiting the Destruction of Unsold Goods.