Local Repair Cafe and Cranfield Uni welcome ‘Right to Repair’ law and sustainable economy

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The Bedford Repair Shop advocates learning to repair your own things, including vacuum cleaners
Organisers of the Bedford Repair Cafe and Cranfield University’s director of manufacturing have today welcomed the introduction of the Right to Repair law as a step towards a more sustainable economy.

From this summer, consumers will have the a ‘right to repair’ on the goods they buy, reducing the need for replacements.

Manufacturers will be legally obliged to make appliances longer-lasting, and they will have to supply spare parts for products including lighting, washing machines, dishwashers and fridges for up to 10 years.

The ruling is part of a promise to implement EU rules – post Brexit – reducing the need for new materials and helping to cut energy use and utility bills.

If it’s broke, fix it

The Bedford Repair Cafe was set up in 2016 to help Bedfordians fix broken appliances and products, rather than them going to landfill.

“We want to draw attention to today’s throwaway culture by demonstrating that, with a bit of know-how and the right tools, most things are fixable,” said Bedford Repair Cafe co-founder and fixer.

At each pop up Repair Cafe event, electricians and seamstresses, engineers and techies have been on hand to divert everything from toasters to clothing from landfill.

“We are so glad to hear the UK government has agreed to comply with the rules recently set out by the EU,” said Daniel.

“The new law only affects appliances such as white goods and TVs, which is a good start.

“For the repair cafe community, we are keen for the momentum to continue for smartphones, computers and tablets, whose manufacture have a huge environmental impact.”

Daniel Churchill (right), teaching the skills to fix your own stuff

While running Bedford’s repair cafe, Daniel says they’ve seen a frustration over products that don’t last and a real thirst to avoid waste.

“We use the Repair Cafe to spark conversations about Right to Repair,” said Daniel. “There’s a real demand from our visitors to reduce waste.”

Cranfield University’s director of manufacturing, Professor Mark Jolly has also welcomed introduction of the law.

Pointing to Cranfield research, Professor Jolly highlights the effectiveness of remanufactured laptops in comparison to new ones, as an example of how repaired goods can be as effective as new ones.

“This law is a welcome step in creating a circular and more sustainable economy,” he said.

“Far too many products, particularly electrical ones, are simply discarded at what is assumed to be the end of their use life.

“Our own research into remanufactured laptops shows just how effective repairs can be with remanufactured models retaining around 95% of their original processing power.

“If businesses and consumers embraced a switch from new to remanufactured computers that would make a huge difference to the amount of electrical waste generated and also reduce the need for the mining of metals.”

What’s in a PC?

“The average PC is a lavish piece of work with copper from Chile, gold from Mali, iron ore from Brazil, nickel from the Congo, bauxite from Peru,” explained Professor Jolly.

“Many components depend on rare earth or platinum group metals highlighted as under threat in the EU’s Critical Raw Materials listing.

“While the announcement of the ‘right to repair’ law is welcome we also need to see greater education of both the public and businesses that repaired and remanufactured doesn’t always mean a drop in quality or performance.”

Daniel also believes there is more to be done.

“You can help fight for repair rights by supporting Restart Project and Right To Repair Europe,” he said.

“They are campaigning for good design built to last and to be repairable.

“Fair access- sometimes legal barriers are put in the way, replacement parts are too expensive and manuals not shared with the public.”

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