This week we’ve launched “BattCat”, our latest interactive, people-powered investigation into why devices fail. This time we’re asking for your help to learn why repairs involving batteries are often too hard to complete.
Batteries are hard to replace
We’ve probably all seen devices stop working because something went wrong with the battery. Often battery problems are more complex to fix than they should be and community repair volunteers struggle to repair them.
Together with partners from the Open Repair Alliance, we’ve collected data on a thousand repairs that couldn’t be completed at repair events, due to issues linked with batteries. This is about 50% of all repairs attempts involving batteries. We want to learn more about the causes: is it because of the price or scarce availability of spare parts? Or is it because of product designs making it hard to replace the battery?
With your help, we want to categorise what went wrong with each of these repairs. We’ll use the insights to push for legislation to make future products easier to repair.
Pushing for the Right to Repair
This is a timely issue, as the European Commission is currently investigating new legislation aiming to improve the environmental performance of batteries and products containing batteries. One aspect being considered is a removability and replaceability clause: ensuring that all products come with a removable and user-replaceable battery. We think this is important from the perspective of repairing products.
However, very little independent data exists about how battery-related problems make repairing electrical and electronic products difficult or impossible. In some cases, hard-to-remove batteries might mean products become e-waste simply because the battery health is reduced. We want to use the results of BattCat as evidence of the need for user-replaceable batteries in future consumer products.
Please try BattCat, and let us know what you think about it. If you’re curious about our work in this area, you can join an event on Saturday 31st July, where we’ll jointly work on BattCat as well as on completing our previous investigations: on printers with PrintCat and tablets withTabiCat.
We are hugely grateful to to The ACTION (Participatory science toolkit against pollution) project for funding this work and for their support.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 824603. This blog post reﬂects the author’s views. The European Commission is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.