The Intersection of Warranty and Sustainability
What’s the value in keeping a smartphone alive for just one more year?
It's over 600,000 cars worth of emissions in the USA. That's almost like banishing all the cars registered in the state of New Mexico.
If this is the case with cell phones, imagine the impact we can have on our planet by increasing the life cycle of all our electrical and electronic devices regardless of their size or cost. The possibilities are endless!
One of the crucial factors that could help in achieving this is an efficient warranty management system as it encourages a repair and maintenance culture, which eventually increases product life and reduces waste.
In this post, we’ve discussed all of this in detail, including how warranties and sustainability are connected, what’s the impact of premature replacement, how warranties encourage corporate and consumer sustainable behaviour and how they reduce e-waste. We will also explore the latest advancement in warranty management and how it is making it easier for consumers to extend the lifespan of their devices. Let’s get started.
How are Warranties and Sustainability Connected?
Sustainability and warranties have a strong connection with each other as weak warranty management leads to pre-mature product replacement causing e-waste. On the flip side, having an efficient warranty system promotes a repair culture, which in turn increases product longevity and reduces waste production. Let’s look at this in detail:
Impact of Unnecessary Electronic Replacement on the Planet
Replacement over repair and frequent gadget updates are common occurrences around us. Here’s what it does to the planet:
- By retiring electrical equipment pre-mature, the EU is producing up to 261 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year.
- Globally, e-waste results in the loss of raw materials worth around $57 billion, mainly consisting of iron, copper, and gold. This not only causes pollution and increases mining, but also poses health risks at both local and global levels due to these metals' toxicity.
- All the stages of an electronic device, starting from its birth to its disposal harm the planet in one way or another. The process starts with mining, followed by materials refinement, manufacturing, production, shipping and operation, and ends at disposal, most of the time in landfills. Each of these stages causes air, water and soil pollution, leading to climate change. Other impacts include habitat destruction, non-renewable resource consumption and severe human health consequences.
How Providing and Using Warranty Rights Reduce E-waste?
Here’s how providing and using warranty rights to the fullest help in reducing e-waste and reversing climate change:
Encourage Repair Over Replacement
By providing and supporting easy access, understanding and use of product warranties, manufacturers and retailers empower their customers to take full advantage of the repair facility, which discourages product replacement. Repair Cafés found that each complete repair could reduce CO2 emissions by -24 kgCO2e versus replacement in around 88% of cases.
The benefits are not restricted to the environment but also positively impact the economy. For instance, Londoners alone could save up to £1.8 billion by repairing rather than replacing.
Increase Product Longevity
Warranties often come with maintenance notices, which if taken seriously, could increase the lifetime of the devices by fixing the wear and tear before it becomes a major problem. This saves consumers money by lowering repair instances and the environment by reducing the chances of the device becoming e-waste.
Similarly, if the product breaks down and the customer reaches out to a repairer, then they divert waste from the landfill, which would have been the case if they had opted for replacement. Due to repair, the product becomes useable again leading to higher chances of it being fully utilised.
Promote circular economy
Efficient warranty management ensures that products stay within the economy rather than ending up in an incinerator or a landfill by improving customers’ overall after-sales experience. They have a better understanding of when and how to maintain their devices, who to connect with if they require repair and what to do once they are done with the device.
This includes knowing about the upgrade and recycling policies, which are specifically applicable to customers who enjoy upgrading to new device models. The majority of companies take back old devices and implement recycling and remanufacturing techniques to keep them in circulation.
Improve Product Quality
Having a consistent and efficient warranty management system provides you with a detailed data set that you could use to significantly improve the product quality in the following ways:
- Pinpoint issues: Warranty data will pinpoint common issues with your products, which you can then send to your R&D and product improvement team to enhance the quality of the existing products and improve the design of upcoming devices.
- Identify suppliers with quality issues: By analysing the frequent malfunctions data, you can figure out which of the suppliers are lagging behind in quality and reduce future problems.
- Recognise production issues: Through warranty data and analytics you can identify specific plants that are producing malfunctioning products and rectify them.
Ultimately, these measures will increase product longevity by reducing breakdown chances and lead to lower e-waste.
How do Warranties Support Sustainable Corporate Behaviour?
Governments and international climate organizations increasingly recognise the urgent need for sustainability, leading to the development of numerous environmental legislations. In terms of warranties, the most essential is the right-to-repair legislation, implemented throughout the world in various forms.
The main purpose of this law is to empower customers’ warranty rights by forcing manufacturers to provide free access to required repair and maintenance information and software updates for a certain period of time, improve device repairability by including replaceable and removable parts, increase repair attractiveness through incentives such as giving a replacement device during the repair time and better device repairability customer information.
Each law may differ depending on the location in which it is implemented, but the overarching goal is to reduce electronic waste and promote a more circular economy. The most recent development in it is the new proposed Directive on Common Rules Promoting the Repair of Goods. You can read more about it by clicking here.
Assist in Developing and Improving Repair Capabilities
Many companies are reluctant to disclose intricate details about their product's components, offer spare parts, and share repair manuals, which makes it difficult for external repairers to do their job. However, if they establish an efficient warranty management mechanism, they can either have their own repairers or collaborate with third-party repairers to simplify and promote warranty claims.
Adaptation of Circular Economy
Unlocking the untapped potential of efficient warranties could pave the way for a transformative shift towards a circular economy, positioning them as the cornerstone for manufacturers. Here's how:
- Manufacturers have a financial stake in offering warranties, so they incentivise them in improving product quality and increasing repairability to decrease overall costs.
- Quality improvement to counter repair possibilities pushes for innovation, leading to products better suited for the circular economy.
- By supporting repairs, manufacturers extend the lifecycle of products.
- Warranties often have a maintenance aspect to them, reducing the chances of product breakdown.
- Efficient warranty data collection and analysis help companies build higher-quality products by closing the product feedback loop.
- Through warranties, companies can market their other circular economy initiatives such as buyback programs to take back used products and recycle, remanufacture or repurpose them.
How do Warranties Encourage Sustainable Consumer Behaviour?
As customers increasingly embrace eco-consciousness by choosing products that are sustainably produced and offer eco-friendly features, warranties can serve as a powerful catalyst to further propel this positive behaviour as they contribute to the longevity of purchased items, reducing the chances of them getting landfilled.
Repair Over Replacement
Lengthier warranties attract more customers as they showcase a brand's confidence in their products' durability and longevity. This also indirectly instils green behaviour as a product's longer warranty means a longer repair time period, lengthier product life and lower chances of it getting landfilled. In addition to this, people are more likely to use their warranty rights for products with a long warranty as they are costlier as compared to their competitors.
Similarly, even if the product doesn’t have a lengthy warranty, the presence of a straightforward warranty use mechanism can greatly enhance the likelihood of customers choosing repair over replacement. When customers understand the warranty terms clearly and know how to make a proper claim, they feel empowered to go for repairs, thus promoting sustainable consumption and reducing unnecessary product waste.
Efficient maintenance of products is crucial for mitigating wear and tear, enhancing longevity, and optimising efficiency. Recognising this importance, an increasing number of warranties now include comprehensive maintenance facilities that enable customers to access regular maintenance services directly from company engineers.
By utilising product maintenance through such warranty programs, customers can maximise the lifespan of their purchases, which not only results in significant cost savings but also contributes to long-term environmental benefits by reducing carbon emissions by lowering new purchases.
Eco-Friendly Product Upgrades and Responsible Disposal
Regular phone and other electrical device upgrades to access new technology have become a norm in society. Most of the time, the older models are discarded and they end up either in landfills or incinerators.
Image via Forbes
An efficient warranty ecosystem supports countering these issues by helping companies in promoting their other environmentally friendly incentives such as product upgrade programs and responsible disposal facilities.
Customers receive regular updates about new incentives and opportunities, enabling them to make the most of both cost and environmental benefits. These offers often allow customers to return their old devices to the manufacturer, where they are recycled, repurposed, reused, or even remanufactured, keeping them in circulation and reducing the overall environmental impact.
The Power of Warranties and Repair to Reduce E-waste in Stats
- Approximately 33% of UK residents have never claimed a warranty. Given that, an average UK home has 10.3 internet-enabled devices in them, millions of e-waste can be diverted from landfills by embracing repairs.
- A study conducted by Microsoft on its own devices found that by choosing to repair products instead of replacing them, it is possible to decrease potential waste and GHG emissions by 92%.
- EU has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 10 million tonnes annually by using electrical equipment for longer periods.
- The recent right-to-repair directive proposed by the EU, which is centric around repair over replacement, could reduce GHG emissions of 18.5 million tons, resource consumption of 1.8 million tons and waste of 3 million tons in the next 15 years.
How Does iWarranty Help Manufacturers and Retailers Reduce Carbon Emissions?
At iWarranty, our mission is to help manufacturers, retailers and consumers reduce carbon emissions by digitising warranty management. We offer an integrated digital warranty platform comprising desktop software for the warranty management teams of manufacturers and retailers and a consumer app for customers.
In addition to this, our platform is equipped with an advanced warranty data collection and analysis system for in-depth insights into warranty causes, frequently occurring issues and consumer behaviour. Here’s how we can help you transition into a circular economy:
- Instant product registration through a QR code scan
- Instant warranty claims through a few taps on the phone from anywhere in the world to encourage repair culture
- Regular repair updates
- Automated claim verification to avoid warranty fraud
- One-on-one chat facility between customers, repairers and the warranty management team for instant and stress-free communication
- Advanced data and analytics for future R&D and product improvement
Interested in learning more about our digital warranty management solution? Fill out the form below:
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