Skip to Menu Skip to Search Contact Us Skip to Content

SAFEGUARDS | Electrical & Electronics NO. 118/15

SafeGuardS Home Theater System

The German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA) is working on proposals for the development of a minimum service life label to be affixed on all electrical and electronic (E&E) products intended for sale on the German market. An implementation timetable has not yet been disclosed.

In an interview with a public radio station [1] on 25 June 2015, an UBA representative on Eco-design and Eco-labelling presented the reasons behind the new label and some of the implementation avenues currently being explored.

The aim of the new product label for E&E products is to give consumers more information about the expected service life of products and devices sold on the German market. E&E products will have to include on the label reliable information about their minimum service life – a period in which they will be free of defects and will not require any repairs.

The form and content to be included on the label is currently being debated. For some types of products, indicating a number of years might not be the most relevant and accurate indication of their expected service life. Certain E&E products may be required to indicate instead the number of functional cycles expected, e.g. the number of washing cycles for a washing machine or the number of operating hours for lights and for products that incorporate an electric motor.

This new UBA initiative on E&E product labeling is closely linked to a study on obsolescence currently being performed by the UBA, in conjunction with the Öko Institute and Bonn University. The first results of the “Fact Check Obsolescence” study (in German) [2], revealed that the service life of certain E&E products has decreased significantly in the past decade.

According to the study, the most significant change has been noticed in TV sets, which are currently being replaced by consumers at a more frequent rate. Around 60% of TV sets replaced in Germany in 2012 were still functioning well, but were being exchanged for newer and better performing models. The average age of TV sets being replaced in 2012 was 5.6 years.

While the above trend is understood to be driven by consumers’ desire for product novelties, it was also noticed in the study that a significant number of E&E devices needed to be exchanged in the first 5 years due to malfunctioning or defects. The number of devices needing replacement in the first 5 years increased more than twofold in the year 2012 compared to the year 2004.

Similar trends have also been noticed for household goods. In 2012, the service life of large household appliances, such as washing machines and refrigerators, had decreased to 13 years - one year shorter than the previous average. The percentage of large white goods that had to be replaced within their first five years of usage had also increased from 3.5% in 2004, to 8.3% in 2012.

The reasons behind the diminished products’ service life point both towards changes in consumer behaviours, as well as towards technological innovations and obsolescence strategies on the manufacturing side. The exact causes are currently being investigated in the second part of the UBA study.

As the world’s leader in third party testing, SGS has the global knowledge and local expertise to help you achieve compliance with Electrical & Electronics regulations covering product safety, EMC, hazardous substances (RoHS, REACH, SVHC etc), energy efficiency, Ecodesign, ErP, Performance and Reliability as well as with many other consumer product related requirements. Whether you are in need of testing or services in the fields of inspection, certification, compliance assurance, outsourcing, training or auditing, SGS is ideally positioned to satisfy your needs. www.sgs.com/ee.

For enquiries, please contact:

Udo Krischke
Technical Manager, Restricted Substance Testing Services
t: +49 (0)6128 744 235

© SGS Group Management SA – 2015– All rights reserved - SGS is a registered trademark of SGS Group Management SA. This is a publication of SGS, except for 3rd parties’ contents submitted or licensed for use by SGS. SGS neither endorses nor disapproves said 3rd parties contents. This publication is intended to provide technical information and shall not be considered an exhaustive treatment of any subject treated. It is strictly educational and does not replace any legal requirements or applicable regulations. It is not intended to constitute consulting or professional advice. The information contained herein is provided “as is” and SGS does not warrant that it will be error-free or will meet any particular criteria of performance or quality. Do not quote or refer any information herein without SGS’s prior written consent.