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Featured in: The Times - Letters to the editor

Sir, Further to your report “Right to repair’ means spare parts for household appliances” (Mar 10), while I applaud the government’s decision to guarantee consumers the “right to repair” the same should be done for industry. Take semiconductors, for example. In the 1970s and 1980s, many models were in production for 24 to 40 years. Today a semiconductor’s production life can be as short as two years. The same is true of all industrial technology, from motors to computers. This means that the functionality of a whole production line could be compromised, and an expensive and totally unnecessary factory overhaul might be commissioned, just because a component has been discontinued.

In 2019 the UK ranked as the world’s second-largest producer of waste electrical and electronic equipment. If we want to change the status quo we must give manufacturers the chance to engage in a circular economy by making spare parts readily available. Component obsolescence is a natural consequence of technological progress and as such, it can’t be stopped completely, but when its speed gets out of control it has negative consequences for consumers and the environment.

Jonathan Wilkins
Director, EU Automation, and author of BoOM! The Book of Obsolescence Management

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