Restart Project

time to step up

Limited legislation has been passed to provide our Right to Repair, but there is still much more we can do. We can all take better care of our things. Make them last longer. We can learn to repair them, or find someone who can.

We already have lots of potential solutions. Community repair groups like Repair Cafe’s and the Restart Project can help us make things last longer, but ultimately we need to build much more capability.

In the short term our local Council’s and Waste Authorities can help make a real difference.
Some already do, but they can all do more.

Councils could enable more access to unused shops for community repair groups to use (like Share and Repair in Bath, Re:Make in Newport or the Fixing Factory in Camden).

They can also help with consumer awareness and education. They can help shift the culture from recycling (which is wasteful) to reuse and repair. Adding facilities to HWRCs (like the Fixing Factory in Brent). They can work in partnership with repair groups, charities and local independent repairers.

All the areas highlighted in the diagram above are opportunities for local authorities to help make more of a difference.

Second ‘Fixing Factory’ in London

Mark Phillips Events, News October 28, 2022 7 Comments

The second Fixing Factory was opened by the mayor in Camden.

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.

Camden Fixing Factory was officially opened after Camden Mayor, Nasim Ali, cut the ribbon. There were also a number of other local politicians plus representatives from a number of local stakeholders and community groups. In addiction to the opening of the Queen’s Crescent Fixing Factory, the local community was also invited to take part in some hands-on fixing.

The final touches to the signage at Camden Fixing Factory

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

At the launch event there were demonstrations from Mer-IT of how to open your laptop, change hard drives, memory cards and batteries.

Mer-IT explaining the insides of a laptop and how to upgrade parts, extending its life.

Volunteers at opening event

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 – they help increase high street activity, create local community events, training and potential job opportunities, improve local environmental performance and help with the cost of living crisis.

Sian Berry AM (London Assembly Member – Greens) and Dermot Jones (Camden Fixing Factory in conversation

you can hear more about the Camden and Brent Fixing Factories are the Restarters Podcast.

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.