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Apple forced to add iPhone and MacBook repairability scores to comply with French law

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The new law is designed to reduce waste

The repairability score can be seen on the lower right of the product page.

Apple has added iPhone and MacBook repairability scores to its online store in France to comply with a new French law that came into effect this year. MacGeneration reports that the rating takes into account features like how easily a device can be disassembled and the availability of repair manuals and spare parts. Links to each product’s final score, with details for how they were calculated, are available on this support page.

The ratings for Apple’s products vary between products and generations. Its iPhone 12 lineup all have scores of six out of 10 for example, while the previous year’s iPhone 11s are rated lower at between 4.5 and 4.6. The improvement, according to the detailed scoring assessment, is due to the newer iPhones being easier to dismantle than the previous year’s models, and spare parts being cheaper compared to the cost of the phone itself. There’s less of a spread between the company’s different MacBook models, whose scores range from 5.6 to 7.

Scores are also shown for MacBooks.

The repairability scores are required by a new French law which came into effect on January 1st with new anti-waste legislation. A website cataloging scores across different manufacturers notes that last year only 40 percent of France’s electrical devices were repaired after they broke down. The government aims increase this to 60 percent within five years by using the scores to educate consumers and pressure manufacturers to make improvements.

It’s not a perfect system. Radio France Internationale notes that manufacturers calculate their own scores (albeit based on strict guidelines), and they can gain easy points with simple measures like giving more information about software updates.

At least one manufacturer has already made a change in response to the law. A report from Le Monde notes that Samsung offered an online repair guide for its Galaxy S21 Plus, in an apparent attempt to boost its repairability score compared to the previous year’s model. The EU has used a similar initiative in the past to encourage energy efficiency, where labels have offered simple information about the energy consumption of household products.

France’s new law is still in its early stages, and it won’t be until 2022 that companies will begin facing fines for failing to comply. But there are already hopes that the initiative — which currently covers smartphones, laptops, TVs, washing machines and lawnmowers — might be expanded to more product categories in the future. And with the European Parliament voting in favor of right to repair rules last year, there are hopes similar initiatives might be rolled out across the continent.