Greenwashing: Definition, Impacts and Solutions by LONGTIME

Planned obsolescence, a major challenge in the sustainable management of resources, is at the heart of concerns in France. In response, France plans to replace the reparability index with a new sustainability index.

Updated 07/12/2023

This initiative, initially scheduled for 2024, is being adjusted following recommendations from the European Commission. Contrary to initial plans, smartphones and tablets will no longer be included in the Durability Index. This decision stems from the introduction of the future energy label for these appliances, scheduled for June 2025, which will include a European reparability index and information on reliability.

Regulatory framework:

A Council of State decree specifies the details of the Index for electrical and electronic equipment.
Three decrees define the display methods and calculation parameters for each product category:

  • The decree for televisions will take effect 9 months after its publication.
  • The decree for multifunction mobile phones is still uncertain, due to the new direction taken by the European Commission.
  • The order for washing machines will come into force 12 months after its publication.

Understanding programmed obsolescence

Planned obsolescence is a concept whereby manufacturers deliberately design products so that they cease to function or become obsolete after a certain period, thereby encouraging consumers to buy new ones. This practice has considerable environmental consequences, contributing in particular to the depletion of resources and the accumulation of technological waste, which is particularly difficult to recycle.

From the reparability index to the durability index

Stemming from the AGEC law and initiated in 2021, the reparability index was a first step towards providing consumers with transparent data on the possibility of repairing the appliances they buy in the event of a breakdown.

LONGTIME® played a major role in the creation of the reparability index. Its criteria include the availability of technical documentation, ease of disassembly, availability of spare parts, the cost of spare parts in relation to the price of the new product, and specific measures depending on the product category. Unfortunately, the lack of weighting that we identified at the time helped to create a sometimes misleading index.

What is the durability index?

The durability index is an evolution of the reparability index, designed to incorporate measures of robustness and durability. Initially, smartphones, televisions and washing machines were intended to be covered by this index. However, the European Commission has recently indicated that smartphones and tablets will be excluded from this index, due to the future European energy label, which will include a reparability index.

This new index, which will be applied to televisions and washing machines, will provide consumers with a comprehensive assessment of the durability of products, thanks to a rating from 1 to 10 accompanied by a colour code. The aim of this measure is to enable buyers to make more informed choices by assessing the durability and resistance of the products they are considering.

Why was a sustainability index created?

The short lifespan of electrical and electronic products is a major source of waste and pollution. Manufacturing a product necessarily has an impact on the environment at every stage of its life cycle.

It is for these very reasons that we decided to commit ourselves as citizens and create the LONGTIME® Certificationin 2017.

We regularly talk about pollution from cars, planes and meat, but we often overlook the impact of our use of manufactured goods.

To give you an idea, to amortise the impact of manufacturing a mobile phone, we would have to use it for 232 years!

Extending product life is a highly effective eco-design strategy. Choosing reliable goods and extending their lifespan by choosing to have them repaired is like giving up flying or reducing your meat purchases.

What are the differences between the reparability index and the durability index?

The reparability index was introduced to give consumers a clear idea of how easy it is to repair a product if it breaks down. This is a measure designed to encourage the repair rather than the replacement of appliances. Repairability is not the same as durability. Durability is reliability + repairability – it’s an important concept to grasp.

Above all, consumers want reliable goods. An item may be repairable, but if it breaks down regularly, consumers will give up and buy something new.

The index therefore extends the indicators of the reparability index by including robustness in the assessment. The aim is not only to check how easy it is to repair, but also the longevity and resistance of the goods to everyday wear and tear. In this way, you can obtain a more complete and nuanced assessment of the durability of the products you are considering buying.

What are the durability index criteria?

As you will have gathered, this index combines the measurements of the old French government reparability index, to which new reliability assessment indicators will be added. The list of criteria will vary according to the category.

The new additional criteria of the durability index

Here are the 3 criteria that will be added to those of the reparability index to form the basis of the durability index.

Criterion Resistance to stress and/or wear

Depending on the type of equipment, this criterion may refer to one or more durability tests (wear tests) carried out on the item or its main components.
It may also refer to sub-criteria relating to resistance to external stresses (corrosion).

Maintenance and upkeep criterion

It is commonly said that 50% of breakdowns can be avoided by observing the conditions of use and maintenance of the articles.

  • Maintenance:

This criterion is used to check the conditions under which the equipment and/or its major sub-assemblies can be maintained in a nominal functional state, including software functions.

  • Upkeep:

This criterion corresponds to the ability of the equipment or the main sub-parts of the equipment to be maintained in a functional state that complies with its intended use and the vendor’s description. Depending on the category of equipment, this includes the ease of access to information on maintenance procedures, the quality and level of detail of the information on maintenance procedures, and the ease with which maintenance procedures can be carried out.

Criterion Durability guarantee and quality approach

This third criterion focuses on the warranty conditions offered by the manufacturer and its quality approach.

  • Sub-criterion Duration of commercial durability guarantee

This sub-criterion involves noting the period of the commercial guarantee of durability (not to be confused with the Legal Conformity Guarantee) that the producer or other marketer agrees to grant to the end user. Additional conditions for awarding points under this sub-criterion may be defined for each category of equipment.

  • Sub-criterion Implementation of a continuous improvement process

Based on a tangible documentation system, the producer must demonstrate its ability to set up a continuous improvement system. As part of this process, manufacturers are also being asked to monitor breakdown rates.

Sectoral criteria Material or functional improvements

These indicators are linked to equipment improvements, but only concern certain categories of item. These improvements will be assessed from two angles: hardware improvements and/or software improvements.

  • Software improvement sub-criterion

This involves assessing the manufacturer’s ability to provide software enhancements that improve the functions or performance of the equipment.

  • Material improvement sub-criterion

In this sub-section, the manufacturer assesses its ability to provide improvements of a material nature in order to increase the capabilities and performance of the equipment, an existing function or to develop another function. If necessary, the hardware improvement also includes one or more software improvements specific to its integration.

How is the durability index score calculated?

The index score is the result of a multi-criteria evaluation. A calculation matrix in the form of an excel grid constructed by the government and in which the LONGTIME® label participated will be downloadable for each commodity covered by the index.

The exact method of calculation could vary, but it could involve weighting the different indicators according to their perceived importance in the overall durability of the product.

Each criterion is given a score, and aggregating them gives an overall score on a scale of 1 to 10, rounded to the nearest decimal place. A higher score will therefore normally indicate better durability.

Who checks the calculation of the reliability score?

The responsibility for calculation lies with the builders themselves, in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the competent authorities.

In terms of allocation, there is no difference for the time being, since the index will be self-monitored. It is the manufacturer itself that calculates and communicates its score to distributors or customers. The DGCCRF (Direction Générale de la Concurrence, de la Consommation et de la Répression des Fraudes – Directorate-General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control) may be called in or carry out random checks on the calculations.

However, to ensure accuracy and transparency, it is desirable that verification be carried out by independent, accredited and trained third-party organisations or government agencies. An audit would ensure that manufacturers follow the guidelines accurately and honestly, reducing the risk of inflated or manipulated scores.

Verification could also include random testing of goods by third-party organisations to validate manufacturers’ claims about reliability and repairability.

What are the penalties associated with the durability index?

At this stage, there is no visibility in the event of a breach of the French Government Index. However, there is a good chance that the environmental display sanctions will be transposed to the index.

At present, any failure to comply with the index is punishable by an administrative fine of up to €3,000 for a natural person and €15,000 for a legal entity (cf.Article 3 of the Climate and Resilience Act of August 2021).

These penalties are minimal compared to the competitive advantage that can be gained by displaying an index that is inflated in relation to reality.

Which products will be covered by the durability index?

sHere is the list of items for which the durability index is mandatory:

  • Television
  • Washing machines

The index is being applied to a small range of electrical and technological products for the time being, but the list of items covered should match the list of items covered by the reparability index.

Where can I find the grids used to calculate the durability index?

The calculation grids will be accessible at least on the website As with the reparability index grids, producers will be able to download a zip containing the matrices to be completed.

Durability index: benefits for consumers and implications for professionals

The sustainability index is part of a circular economy approach aimed at promoting the extension of the life of goods and reducing premature waste and our use of resources.

Consumers, how to read and interpret the index?

For customers, the index is a comparison tool for making informed choices when buying electronics and household appliances. Here’s how to read and interpret the index:

  • Rating scale

The durability index uses a rating scale from 1 to 10. The higher the score, the better the durability. A colour coding system accompanies the rating, ranging from bright red for non-repairable items to dark green for easily repairable items.

  • Additional information

At the time of purchase, the seller should be able to provide the rating grid used to determine the durability index, thus offering a more detailed overview of the product’s performance in each of the criteria assessed.

We recommend that you keep a close eye on the ratings and find out about the durability of the products you want to buy. The LONGTIME® certification experts draw up buying guides that will turn you into an expert in the blink of an eye!

Manufacturers, how can you prepare?

For manufacturers, the durability index implies a revision of the current score calculations linked to the reparability index.

As reliability is taken into account in the calculation matrices, scores may fall for products that are easy to repair but unreliable.

Conversely, for items that are more reliable but less easy to repair, the scores could be revised upwards.

  • Sustainable design

The lowest-rated manufacturers will have to quickly adopt design and production practices that promote durability, or risk seeing their market share fall rapidly.

LONGTIME®, through itsspecific support tools,can help manufacturers to improve their sustainability practices.

criteria of reparability by LONGTIME

Would you like to know the differences between LONGTIME® and the durability index?


Conclusion: durability, the future of consumption in France

The current environmental crisis and growing collective awareness are leading us to a major shift in the way we consume. Early expiry, once commonplace, is now being singled out and vigorously combated.

In France, initiatives such as the durability index and the LONGTIME® certification bear witness to a strong desire to move towards more responsible and sustainable production and use.

The LONGTIME® certification stands out in particular by offering a guarantee of reliability and reparability on a wide range of products. It enables customers to make informed choices and invest in products that are built to last. It also encourages manufacturers to rethink the design of their products in favour of durability and reparability. The LONGTIME® certification is a concrete response to the environmental challenges we face, promoting a circular economy and helping to reduce waste.

The durability index, although more restricted in its application, is also a step towards greater transparency and education on product durability. It is an information tool for customers and an incentive for manufacturers to improve the longevity of their products.

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