Washing Machines - Replace or Repair?

1st December 2010

Environmental life cycle assessment study of replacement and refurbishment options for domestic washing machines.

Key findings
Replacing a machine is only likely to deliver environmental savings if the new model is highly energy-efficient.
Refurbishment can be environmentally preferable to replacement in a number of cases.

Overview

Overview

WRAP commissioned Environmental Resources Management Limited (ERM) to undertake a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study to investigate and to compare replacement and refurbishment options for household washing machines at the end of their lifetime.

Whilst the manufacture and delivery of a replacement washing machine will incur an environmental cost, it is assumed that new machines will have an equal or improved energy efficiency compared to the machine they replace. Conversely, refurbishment will result in lower manufacturing burdens compared to producing a new washing machine and will delay the purchase of a replacement machine. 

Reports

Summary report

WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) evaluated the environmental impacts of a range of replacement and refurbishment scenarios for domestic washing machines, carried out through an ISO-compliant and independently peer-reviewed Life Cycle Assessment. This document summarises the work, the full ISO Life Cycle Assessment is available from WRAP on request.

Key Points:

  • In half of the scenarios examined, machine refurbishment is the most environmentally beneficial option.
  • Where new machines enable and encourage the user to reduce their usage impact (for example by washing at lower temperature) there are clear benefits to upgrading.

Jump to:

Executive Summary >>
Contents >>

                The Study >>
                Findings >>
                Where next? >>
                Conclusions >>

Download the full report >>

Technical report

WRAP commissioned Environmental Resources Management Limited (ERM) to undertake a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study to investigate and to compare replacement and refurbishment options for household washing machines at the end of their lifetime

Key Points:

  • Immediate replacement of A and C machines with A++ rated machines (based on the modelled approach concerning product performance of the MTP What If? tool) represents the most environmental preferable option for all impact categories except solid waste generation and photochemical oxidation.
  • With the exception of water use, refurbishment of an A rated machine is environmentally preferential to immediate replacement with an A or an A+ rated machine.
  • The relative benefits of refurbishing a C rated machine compared to its immediate replacement with A or an A+ machine are dependent on the lifetime extension achieved by refurbishment
  • When future (post refurbishment) replacement with an A+ rated machine is compared to current replacement with an A rated machine, the scale of refurbishment benefits are increased.

Jump to:

Executive Summary >>
Contents >>

                1.0 Introduction >>
                2.0 Goal of the Study >>
                3.0 Scope of the Study >>
                4.0 Inventory Analysis >>
                5.0 Impact Assessment >>
                6.0 Sensitivity Analyses >>
                7.0 Discussion >>
                8.0 External Critical Review Statement >>
                9.0 References >>
                10.0 Acknowledgements >>

Download the full report >>

Where next?

Want to know more about product durability in sustainable electricals? Take a look at our reports, guides, tools and case studies for further information:

Reports >>
Guides >>
Tools >>
Case studies >>