News

Report for Microsoft confirms the benefits of Repair

An independent report, commissioned by Microsoft confirms that repairing devices reduces waste and climate emissions.

The study compared replacement versus factory or authorised repair for different Microsoft products. The product included Surface Pros, Surface Book and Laptop Studio.

The study found that, compared to device replacement, all forms of repair offer significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emission and waste reduction benefits. (For the devices studied, repairing can yield up to a 92% reduction in potential waste and emissions.)

It also found that design has significant potential to reduce carbon and waste impacts. Design for repair helps repair and reduces harmful impacts.

Finally, it highlighted that transportation logistics can play in contributing to overall GHG emissions associated with repair services. “To further reduce waste and GHG emissions, Microsoft is advised to take steps to expand repair locations and capabilities across more devices and to promote mail-to repair services“. 

Manufacturers need to do more to enable repair.

First ‘Fixing Factory’ in London

Fixing Factory opens in Abbey Road, Brent

The Restart Project in partnership with climate charity PossibleReady Tech GoWest London Waste Authority, and Mer IT, and with National Lottery Community Funding is creating new ‘Fixing Factories’ in London.  For more information see the dedicated Fixing Factory website.

The first opened in the Abbey Road Reuse and Recycling Centre, Brent, on Saturday 23rd April. The Brent Fixing Factory will be hosted by the West London Waste Authority. Led by project partner Ready Tech Go, it will focus on repairing donated laptops and tablets and passing them on to people without digital access. People will be able to donate devices, see the repairs and find out about the project. Those keen to learn about repair will also have a chance to volunteer on the site and get work experience. 

Demonstrating and discussing repairs at new Fixing Factory, Brent

The second Fixing Factory opens in Camden. later in the summer. The aim is for these to become a ‘blueprint’ for Fixing Factories around the country, emulating the success of Kierrätyskeskus in Finland.

In conjunction with the launch, an event was hosted at nearby Alperton School giving pupils the opportunity to understand the importance of maintaining and repair their devices. They had practical hands on experience disassembling and reassembling mobile phones, and learning about the materials in the source of components. Pupils will also have an opportunity to get work experience at the new Fixing Factory.

Pupils at Alperton School learn about repair of mobile devices.

Whilst the main goal is to make electronics last longer, to prevent unnecessary e-waste and the huge amount of carbon emissions involved in the production and transport of new devices, such facilities also provide wider community benefits – for students, for employment and to enable digital access.

April 22, Earth Day

Copper mine superimposed on London

Today is Earth Day. But it is not just one day.

Our desire electronic for electronics is literally eating the earth. The weight of material extracted and processed is often hundreds of times greater than the finished product. Much of it ends up as toxic waste, further damaging the planet.

Zeke Magazine Spring Issue features stories on environmental issues from around the world, including ‘Unbroken:Repair is Essential”.

For Earth Day 2022, we need to act (boldly), innovate (broadly), and implement (equitably). It’s going to take all of us. All in. Businesses, governments, and citizens — everyone accounted for, and everyone accountable. A partnership for the planet.

We can all do something positive, keep our devices for longer, or get them repaired, or give them a second life through reuse, or simply donate them to charities to provide to others. Just keeping your device for one more year can have a significant positive impact.

Today is Earth Day. But it is not just one day. It is a day to change, for the good.

Getting in to your device, to repair it

Breaking into some devices often requires specialist tools

Sometimes, when you want to repair something, it almost falls apart, and sometimes it is impossible to open it without destroying it. … And once you have it all apart, it can be quite tricky to reassemble everything because you forgot how everything fits together.” This short article by Stefan in Medium explains How to take things apart without breaking it too much. There are some useful tips in this article.

Understanding how to get into your device is often the first step to repair. You might simply need to clean it or or change the battery or replace a component.

For more information on ‘teardowns’ check out the iFixit website. And for those interested, a list of all the different types of screw drives used by manufacturers … (there are a lot): screw drives

If you are interested in repair, a useful way to learn (without destroying your precious devices) is to practice on old devices that are deemed beyond economic repair. Most repair technicians and students learn this way. Taking things apart and then (trying) to put them back together. Those skills once learned are with you forever, so do not look upon it as wasted time.

For more information and help about repair, check out the Resources page, with links to self-repair, community repair and more.

Self-repair and the Right to Repair

Despite the recent claims made, most products are still made with deliberate ‘anti-repair’ designs.

Two phones – one uses 8 simple Phillips screws. The other 2 security screws, 55 Phillips screws in 6 different sizes, a glued screen and glue strips to hold the battery.

Apart from the security screws and fixings, and glued in parts, there are other challenges. First, is access to affordable parts. Software and serialised components can cause the replacement part to not be recognised by the device and will not work. Or may have some features disabled.

Then there is the challenge of how comprehensive the self-repair program is. Apple’s repair program has only been launched, and only in the US. Samsung’s program is currently limited to a few models (Galaxy S20, S21 and Tab S7 devices).

There is a danger that such programs simply buy manufacturers more time. Then continue their current practices and defer the adoption of real right to repair. It is good news that manufacturers are, at last, collaborating with repair experts at iFixit. But advocates for repair are not yet out of a job.

So, whilst, the proposed moves are a step in the right direction, it’s a small step. Without continued pressure little real progress will be made.

Progress on Repair

Two bits of encouraging news about repair and our rights appeared in the last couple of days.

First: In the European Parliament MEPs want more durable and more easily repairable products. On Thursday 7 April, Parliament adopted its demands for an upcoming European Commission proposal on the right to repair planned for later in 2022, with 509 votes in favour, 3 against and 13 abstentions.

Second: iFixit and Google are Launching a Genuine Pixel Parts Program. Google is the latest manufacturer to partner with DIY repair specialists iFixit to offer spare parts for its devices. It should make it far easier for customers to get parts to repair their own Pixel smartphone if it breaks. Parts like batteries, displays, and cameras will be available to purchase in the US, Canada, Australia, the UK, and other European countries. Google says that parts will be available to purchase “later this year”.

Whilst these are both encouraging, there is still a long way to go before we have meaningful rights to repair and manufacturers embrace repairability.

Self-repair programs are not a real right to repair victory. It doesn’t guarantee you will be able to fix your phone.

Repair is Essential

Jamie Uncategorized December 7, 2021 Leave a reply

Exhibition – Tabernacle W11, London

After much deliberation, I eventually got around to putting together an exhibition of the Repair Project.  It was a collaborative effort with the Restart Project, RBKC council and Alex Horn at West Central London Fixers. The exhibition was held from 4 to 17 October in the Tabernacle W11, Notting Hill and designed to show the impact of our electronics

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