Stand up for people’s Right to Repair

Man repairing broken smartphone, close up photo.

The time is right to ensure products placed on the market are designed to last and be repaired. We demand an end to the “throwaway” culture.

Every day we buy products that are designed to break.

Manufacturers are making it increasingly difficult and expensive to repair our electronic gadgets and replace key parts like a cracked screen or a weak battery.

By reducing the lifespan of a product they may drive sales, but this comes at the expense of citizens and the planet.

We’re depleting the world of finite resources to buy things that are meant to become toxic waste. Things we could repair or upgrade instead.

 

What is the Right to Repair?

Tech companies and manufacturers don’t want you to fix or upgrade your gadgets.

For example, Apple recently apologised for deliberately slowing down some iPhones through a software update coinciding with the release of a new model.  Yet it’s increasing the price for repairs – again.

People have had enough. From the US to Europe, we are reclaiming our right to repair. We demand easy access to information, spare parts and repair tools. We want a better product design that makes repair possible at a reasonable price.

Repair is as important as innovation (the Economist 2018) and it may be the only way out of a major environmental and health disaster.

 

Facts and figures

  • The proportion of defective devices being replaced by consumers grew from 3.5% in 2004 to 8.3% in 2012 (source)
  • This may be costing German consumers €110 a month per person (source)
  • A long-lasting washing machine will generate over 20 years 1.1 tonnes less CO2 than a short-lived model. This analysis takes into account manufacturing, distribution, use and end-of-life treatment (source)
  • Electronic waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world (source)
  • Only 35% of electronic waste in the EU is collected and treated properly (source)

 

Eco-design and circular economy

The current situation is unsustainable for governments and businesses that are highly dependent on virgin raw materials imported from far-away countries, despite solutions being already available in Europe to improve repair and reuse.

The good news is that we have the right policy instrument to reverse this trend. It’s called EU Ecodesign.

With 80% of the environmental impacts of products determined at design stage, product design has the potential to increase repairability, durability and recyclability of products.