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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!!

2023 summary

Mark Phillips News December 31, 2023 1 Comment

2023 has been a busy year for the right to repair movement and unbroken.solutions, here is a summary of the project and the groups I have been working with over the past few years.

January – I presented on repair at The Photographers Gallery (TPG) with the Restart Project as part of the TPG’s Small File Photo Festival

March – the project exhibited in Stirling for Circular Communities Scotland’s Share and Repair event, bringing together sharing libraries, repair and reuse communities from across Scotland.

Book and zine were published

The unbroken.solutions book and act now zine were completed, working with Struktur Design and Pure Print, and were published in June.

July– project exhibited at Sustainability Day in Hackney with Hackney Fixers.

September – project exhibited and act now zines distributed to all delegates at Fixfest 2023, in Cardiff. Fixfest brought together over one hundred community repairers and activists from across the UK. It wa an opportunity to share good practice and build capability. Fixfest was also used as a platform to relaunch the Manchester Declaration as a wider and more comprehensive Repair and Reuse Declaration.

The Declaration asks UK legislators and decision-makers at all levels to support repair and reuse to thrive, by requesting the UK:

– Make repair more affordable, through tax reductions and repair vouchers.
– Expand the UK’s right to repair regulations to cover all consumer products, to strengthen design standards and remove barriers to repair for everyone. 
– Introduce a repair index to help the public choose more repairable and durable products. 
– Introduce requirements and targets for reuse and repair to be prioritised over recycling and provide investment to make this a reality. This should be a key part of amended extended producer responsibility rules.
– Support a new generation of repairers through repair training, accreditation and apprenticeships. 
For more information and to encourage your MP to sign, see https://repairreusedeclaration.uk

Act Now Campaign

During the summer and early autumn the campaign to engage 260 UK councils, plus devolved government and UK government departments started. It asked council to provide better support for repair and reuse.  The campaign sent out copies of the book, plus zine and a covering letter. Follow up emails continue to be sent to encourage more support.

The response has been a little muted (unsurprising, given the financial challenges many councils currently have) but largely positive. Some councils have actively engaged and some are including ideas in their future proposals. After some chasing, even DEFRA replied.

In October – attended BOP Bristol and Impressions Gallery, Bradford book fairs with the Photobook Club Collective.

Dead Spaces

Started research and FOI requests on empty (dead) council spaces that could be put to use to support repair and reuse.  This built on the work of Sian Berry’s team in London looking at ‘Dead Spaces‘, addressing London council owned spaces that were not in use or vacant. The FOI extended that research, with a sample across the whole UK. Based on this research, it is estimated that there are around 1200 council owned properties in the UK that are empty and highly likely to be suitable for setting up sharing and repairing centres. This is an opportunity that requires little money to get started.

Visited Cambridge Repair Cafe and exhibited in Cambridge on International Repair Day.

Photographed a Right to Repair Europe (R2REurope) event at EU Parliament in Brussels, aimed at encouraging the parliament to support an improved right to repair directive. Parliament voted positively, but the Council is now in the process of watering down the proposals. Still, it is progress.

Europe has made some progress on repair in 2023 with Batteries directive: User-replaceable batteries required in all portable devices and light transportation vehicles in 2027, and Ecodesign for smartphones & tablets: Parts, tools, and documentation required for all smartphones and tablets by 2025.

In the USA in Colorado: First-ever agricultural bill supporting farmers rights to repair. In Minnesota: Broadest Right to Repair bill yet—this covers basically anything with a chip. In California: requires that electronics and appliances over $100 have parts, tools and manuals available for 7 years and in  Maine: Owners & independent mechanics have access to auto telematics. Great progress for USPIRG, iFixit and the other US campaigners.

Building Capability

Also in October, visited RENEW reuse hub, run by Suez, in Manchester. Although early days, this is a major effort to re-direct goods from recycling skips, and to reuse and repair, so they last longer.

Providing facilities like this, plus share and Repair centres is going to be key to deliver any meaningful improvement in our reuse and repair capability. Sadly, the current government waste policy, strategy and proposals will do little to impact this unless there is a proper plan, rather than a the current ‘word salad’.

November– exhibited and spoke at Dead Spaces event with Sian Berry and Climate Emergency Centres in London.

Decemberunbroken.solutions book was added to SPP network case studies. These case studies provide examples of more sustainable photobook production. The unbroken. solutions photobook was also added to resources in Suez published “Solutions for Stuff”, a comprehensive solutions manual and guide for councils and some material was also provided to the New Zealand, Repair Café Aotearoa Handbook.

During the year regular visits were also made to community repair events and activities at Remake Newport, Penarth, Hackney, Portsmouth Share and Repair, Chesham, Stirling, Cambridge, and Renew in Manchester.

If you want to find out more about progress on repair and reuse and progress on the right to repair check out the Restart Project, R2R Europe and iFixit website and newsletters.

A busy 2023, here’s to more progress in 2024. Happy New Year!

Right To Repair

On 24 October, a group of Right to Repair advocates, including R2REurope, RREUSE, ECOS, and EEB held their “The Price is Right’ event.  The event was a day before the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (ICMO) vote on ‘Sustainable Consumption of Goods – Promoting Repair and Reuse”.

The event challenged MEPs, NGOs and the public as they attempted to work out the ‘official’ price of spare parts for well-known consumer electrical and electronic products. This fun event aimed to educate and remind people of why it is important to have a proper right to repair.

During the event, many were stunned at the cost of spares. For example, the power cable and plug for a steam iron could cost as much as 40% of the price of the iron alone.  Or that a replacement screen for an Digital TV was more expensive than the TV itself.  Even where spares were more reasonably priced, they were often much more expensive than the price of spares on the aftermarket.  

The good news is that the IMCO report was voted through. It significantly improves the Commission’s proposal by introducing provisions to tackle the high cost of repair. It proposes transparent pricing of spare parts, and bans on unfair anti-repair practices.

Without these measures, repairs will remain expensive and, electrical and electronic items will needlessly be disposed of.  This is a waste of resources. It costs local authorities money. It damages the environment. It drives the public to buy another expensive product!   The report proposes:

Access to more information and parts for independent repairers and end users: guaranteeing access to all information and spare parts for everyone, including independent repairers, remanufacturers, refurbishers and end-users.

Affordability of repair: requiring manufacturers to supply parts at reasonable prices.

A solid ban of anti-repair practices: such as the use of software barriers.

A new obligation to repair outside of legal guarantee: stressing that consumers should be able to pick the provider of their choice, promoting independent repair and self-repair. 

Priority to repair within the legal guarantee framework: the priority should be given to repair instead of replacement. 

Next Steps …

The next step is the confirmation of the ICMO position in the main European Parliament. Then finally, for the European Council to enact these rights. 

Given the broad support for repair amongst the public and at the EU Parliament – the Council should enact the ambition.  In the meantime, the case for a proper right to repair continues …  

… and in the UK?

In the UK, following FixFest 2023 in Cardiff, an updated Repair and Reuse Declaration has been published.  The UK lags behind Europe (and some US states). The UK is the second highest producer of electronic waste per capita in the world, and on track to become the top producer.

The UK is also falling behind other countries in support for repair and reuse.  Repair and reuse are central to achieving a circular, less wasteful, economy.  The Declaration asks UK legislators and decision-makers at all levels to support repair and reuse.  It really should not be hard …!

Note – The Right to Repair campaign is a coalition of European organisations pushing for system change around repair. It consists of over 100 members in 20+ countries, including NGOs, repair businesses, repair networks, and repairers themselves. 

California passes Right to Repair

Ugo Vallauri and Nathan Proctor – Restart Project and US PIRG

Some big news in the heart of the tech industry – California Governor, Gavin Newsom recently signed the Right to Repair Act into law, making California the fifth US state to pass legislation on the topic.

What does this mean for consumers?

1 – Consumers and independent repair shops will now have access to the tools, parts and information they need to fix electronics and appliances.

2 – By fixing the things we own, we can keep our electronics and other gadgets in use for longer and out of the waste stream.

3 – By keeping the electronics and appliances for longer, less resource is consumed and less waste is created making therm

Oh, and it is estimated that, by using their stuff for longer, Californians can save an estimated $5 billion each year while avoiding hundreds of thousands of tons of e-waste.

A major success for the Right to Repair, iFixit, USPIRG, and CALPIRG in particular.

Meanwhile in Europe, … efforts continue to improve and extend the existing Right to Repair legislation, watch this space for more news soon.

solutions for stuff

Good to see the new Suez guidance published. Written by Dr Jane Beasley and Sarahjane Widdowson on behalf of Suez, it provides practical advice and support for local authorities to improve waste performance and move towards a more sustainable, circular approach.

It not only considers things for them to directly invest in (and how to build their business case), but also things that they can influence (for others to do) or simply to signpost (that already exist).

It is here and also free to download from Suez publications. They are also happy to receive suggestions and more useful links etc.

Recycling is not sufficient’

Importantly, it addresses, the need to move the focus from the old dominant and simplistic ‘recycle’ mantra, to a more reuse-repair focus. Even a cursory view of the hierarchy of options for our things (stuff) shows that recycling is one of the least attractive and impactful approaches. We can do better.

The 9R Framework of options to move towards a circular economy

The top on the 9R hierarchy is best. So, after questioning the need for the item (refuse or rethink) and how much (reduce), the next best options are to reuse, repair, refurbish, remanufacture or repurpose, only then should recycling be considered. Yet today, almost everywhere you look the message is ‘let’s recycle’. We need to move on and do better and do it faster.

Case studies, examples and links to resources

The report’s reference section (from page 40) includes over 80 case studies and links to resources (including unbroken.solutions/resources) to help point councils towards existing solutions and ideas. The ideas in the report are wholly consistent with the aim behind the photobook and zine campaign, act now. To encourage our councils and local authorities to do more to support reuse and repair.

Whilst councils have significant budget constraints, there are grants available and many councils are sitting on vacant property that could be repurposed at minimal cost for use by community groups. As a minimum they can help better signpost existing repair capabilities and community resources.

book and zine campaign update#1

That ‘is a wrap’. In total, 258 books and zines posted to councils, local authorities and devolved government departments. Copies are also going to contributors and collaborators.

As previously indicated, the aim has been to do this and keep the overall footprint and impact small. All parcels hand delivered to my local Post Office.

The plan is to distribute a large number of the act now zines at FixFest 2023, in Cardiff, in September. Fixfest is a regular global gathering of repairers and tinkerers, activists, policy-makers, thinkers, educators and companies from all over the world.  Many community repairers will be present. They will get a free copy of the zine and the option to take copies for local distribution via their repair events.

The campaign tracks the distribution, receipt, email sent and follow up. Information on capabilities and support provided by councils and local authorities will also be captured.

This supports identifying good practices and hopefully pointing to more solutions and case studies.

Regular campaign updates will be provided. Later, copies of the worksheet / database will be made more widely available.

book and zine campaign

As part of this project around 260 copies of unbroken.solutions photobook will be sent to councils and local authorities in the UK. The ask is a simple one – do more to support repair and reuse in your community.

As part of the campaign, zines have also been produced to distribute to the public, via the community repair network and local repair groups, to encourage the public to engage their councils to ask for more support.

Deciding to run a photobook and zine based campaign clearly comes with an environmental impact. But throughout the process we have been thoughtful and aimed to minimise waste and resources.

The book was designed with Struktur Design to minimise waste and simplify production. The books are A4 size (to minimise paper waste) and use a mix of sustainably sourced and recycled materials. The ‘cloth’ cover uses Wibalin textured and recycled paper. The papers are all CarbonNeutral and FSC sourced. It was printed digitally, as the run size meant offset lith printing would create too much waste (it might all be recycled but it still creates waste and uses energy).

The printers, Pureprint, were selected from criteria to assess their eco-credentials as well as price. They have had ISO14001 (Environmental Management) and EMAS since the 1990s, were the world’s first CarbonNeutral printer. Working with Richard at Pureprint, we aimed to minimise impact in materials, production and use of local suppliers and finishers.

The act now zines were offset printed at YouLovePrint, also part of the PurePrint Group and working to the same environmental management standards.

The books and zines are all sent out using sustainable packaging materials from Priory Direct, BCorp and CarbonNeutral company, offering packaging made from recycled (and recyclable) materials that are sustainably sourced. No bubblewrap, no plastic.

To ship the books and zines, they were hand walked to my local Post Office. Later this year many of the zines will be distributed by and to community repair groups at the upcoming FixFest 2023, again minimising the shipping footprint.

It’s not perfect, but with a little effort you can reduce the impact of your activities. If you want more information on sustainable photobook publishing, check out the resources at SPPNetwork.

We already have solutions. Act Now.

act now

In the UK, councils and local authorities provide our best opportunity to make a meaningful improvements in repair and reuse capability; at least until we have a proper ‘right to repair’.

unbroken.solutions is starting a campaign to encourage greater support, by using a combination of exhibitions and a photobook and ‘zines’ to engage local councils and the public.

unbroken.solutions ‘pop-up’ exhibition at Hackney Sustainability Day in July 2023.

Some councils have already helped provide some funding, or access to facilities, or signposted community repair as an option. Examples such as Share and Repair in Bath, Re:Make Newport and the Fixing Factory in Camden show that community repair can be on the high street. This makes it more visible and available to many more people. But we can do much more.

The first part of the campaign is to distribute a photo book to 260 major councils and waste authorities in the UK. The photo book documents the impact and many solutions from across the world.

The ask is simple: to do more to support repair and reuse. The act now page on this site provides additional links to resources to support this.

In combination with the unbroken.solutions photobook an act now ‘zine’ has been produced to distribute via the community repair network, to the public, asking them to request more local solutions and capability.

Both the book and the zine have been produced in the UK to reduce environmental impact, using printers with strong eco-credentials and an ISO14001 environmental management system, designed to minimise manufacturing waste and using Carbon Neutral and FSC chain of custody sources of paper and card.

The campaign will distribute both the books and the zines over the next few months and encourage councils and the public to provide examples of action.