Yearly Archives: 2024

Campaign Re-fresh

An update on the act now’ campaign to make better use of community facilities for sharing, repair and reuse.

In 2023, I sent ‘unbroken‘ photobooks and ‘act now‘ zines to all major UK councils and local authorities. I have just updated the campaign. More copies of the books and zines have gone to councils that recently changed control. Books have also been sent to the newly elected mayors and to the recently appointed government ministers at DEFRA and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Whilst we really need a better ‘Right to Repair‘, there is still much more we can do with the resources we have.

There are over 1000 under-utilised council-owned properties that are likely suitable for sharing, repair and re-use. Many are empty. Sian Berry (Greens) described these spaces as ‘Dead Spaces‘. They do not need to be dead. If a fraction of these became ‘meanwhile’ use for local communities, it could help reduce waste, reduce council disposal costs, help with cost of living and help build local communities. It really begs the question – so, why would you not want to do this?

The RSA has recently adopted the idea of making better use of these ‘Dead Spaces‘ as part of its Day One Manifesto. This will form part of the ongoing campaign into 2025. More to follow.

International Repair Day (19 October) is fast approaching. As part of that, I am putting together an exhibition to be shown at a ‘meanwhile’ shop outside Leytonstone Station. E11. It is supported by We Flock CIC. More on this in the next few week.

Parliamentary Repair Cafe

Engaging UK MPs in the Right to Repair

On 7 May 2024, the Restart Project, Back Market, Community Repair Network, the Green Alliance and Design Council held an event to engage UK MPs in repair and reuse, to support the Right to Repair and to sign the Repair and Reuse Declaration.

Hosted by Helen Hayes MP, in the Jubilee Room at the Houses of Parliament, the event highlighted the impact of our electrical waste, our options for more repair and reuse and provided an opportunity to support or sign the Repair Declaration. There was also a repair cafe demonstrating repair and repairing items brought in.

Helen Hayes MP, addressing attendees at the Parliamentary Repair Cafe

Repair Cafe groups from all over the UK attended. The event was well attended and more MPs offered support and signed the Declaration. The Repair and Reuse Declaration asks the UK Government to:

Make repair more affordable, through tax reductions (80% support) and repair vouchers (79% support).

Expand the UK’s right to repair regulations to cover all consumer products, strengthen design standards and remove barriers to repair for everyone (85% support)

Introduce a repair index to help the public choose more repairable and durable products (80% support)

Introduce requirements and targets for reuse and repair to be prioritised over recycling and providing investment to make this a reality. This should be a key part of amended extended producer responsibility rules (83% support).

Support a new generation of repairers through repair training, accreditation and apprenticeships(85% support).

With a growing list of signatories and cross-party support an improved right to repair will hopefully become law in the next parliament and bring the UK back in one with Europe and US states.

Thank you to all the MPs who signed …. a step in the right direction.

More Progress on Right to Repair

Back in October 2023, an event was held to remind European Parliament members of the issues in repair. On Tuesday 23 April 2024, the European Parliament eventually adopted the directive on the so-called “right to repair” for consumers with 584 votes in favour, 3 against and 14 abstentions. “The rules clarify the obligations for manufacturers to repair goods and encourage consumers to extend a product’s lifecycle through repair.” Whilst it is still short of what is really needed, it represents another step forward, providing:

– Manufacturer has to repair a product for a reasonable price and within a reasonable timeframe after the legal guarantee period

– Access to spare parts, tools and repair information for consumers

– Incentives to opt for repair, such as repair vouchers and funds 

and, online platforms will assist consumers in finding local repair services and shops selling refurbished goods.

There are now 30 US States considering or implementing a Right to Repair. four states have enacted a right t Rep[air for consumer electronics. One of the most comprehensive being that passed by Gov. Tina Kotek in Oregon, on 27 March 2024.

On the 17 April, the UK Environmental Audit Committee met to take oral evidence and an update on progress ‘electronic waste‘ as a follow up to a review in 2020. Input was provided by National Association of Waste Disposal Officers, Back Market, iWaste, Beko, Royal Society of Chemistry, Material Focus and Green Alliance. In summary, there has been some limited progress, but there is so much more that can be done.

Recent government proposals remain focused on recycling, rather than repair and reuse. It remains difficult for people to access reuse and repair services, and recycling is the least desirable approach for WEEE. A good summary by the Committee Chair, Philip Dunne – “It appears the government is yet to grasp fully the scale of the e-waste tsunami“. It would seem so.  

On 7 May, there will be a UK Parliament Repair Cafe with an opportunity to engage members of parliament in the importance of repair and an improved right to repair. It will also be an opportunity to increase awareness of the Repair Declaration, re-launched at FixFest in 2023.

Given the recent progress in several US States and in Europe, it is an opportunity for the UK Government to step up and make meaningful progress. There are already solutions out there. There are already organisations in place to provide repair and reuse services. We just need better rights.

2024 off to a good start?

It felt like a lot had happened in 2023. But already there is much happening in 2024, especially on the campaign front.

In the UK

After months of nudging, a few councils and waste authorities have responded positively to the ‘act now‘ campaign. This aims to provide more support for repair and reuse in the UK. A particular ‘shout out’ goes to North London Waste Authority, Scottish Government, South Cambridge, West Midlands and Powys. They all took the time to respond and provide more information on their commitments.

DEFRA have also responded, but focussed on their policy paper “The waste prevention programme for England: Maximising Resources, Minimising Waste”. This aims “to use fewer new resources, drive up the repair and reuse of existing materials, and increase recycling“. They are currently consulting on “reforming the producer responsibility system for waste electrical and electronic equipment“. There are a number of good provisions (around funding and producer and large retailer responsibilities). But there are major concerns about the proposals to use kerb-side collection for electrical and electronic items. Given that around 40-50% of these items are reusable and repairable, leaving them ‘kerb-side’ is not god. It is likely to render them all useless and simply create more waste! You have an opportunity to provide input to this consultation – the deadline to respond is 7 March 2024, the link is here: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/product-regulation-and-producer-responsibility/consultation-on-reforming-the-producer-responsibil/

In the USA

USPIRG, iFixit and other campaigners continue to make progress on getting state legislatures to adopt Right to Repair. Following success in California, Oregon is adopting a right to repair. Importantly, Google have come out in support of meaningful proposals. These include:

Repair parts: ensuring that parts are accessible to the public and no parts pairing or registration. This enables small businesses and local repairers to thrive and grow.-

Accessible tools: and an on-device Diagnostic App to help users test device functionality before and after repairs.

– Clear instructions: with redesigned repair manuals and information on how to order parts, view repair manuals, and run diagnostic tests.

More details on the Google commitment to repair – “Repair is a critical component of Google’s focus on enabling product longevity and sustainability

All good stuff. We look forward to Apple and Samsung doing likewise very soon.

In other news

More community repair groups are starting up in the UK. This includes Islington Fixers, who will hold their first event on 20 January 2024 at the Islington Climate Centre. This is in partnership with the Restart Project.

My ‘unbroken.solutions’ exhibition was hosted by the Islington Climate Centre in late 2022. Thank you and Good luck!!