We’re delighted to launch our new Repair and Reuse Declaration to celebrate Repair Day, with a whopping 125 (and counting) groups signed up. The Declaration is supported by more than 100 community repair groups alongside NGOs and businesses like The Design Council, Keep Britain Tidy, Back Market and SUEZ recycling and recovery UK.
Why a new declaration, and why now?
Throwaway products are fuelling climate change, growing our toxic waste mountain, and they’re ripping off the British public: people are stuck in a cycle of throwing away and buying costly new electronics. Right now, the UK is the second highest producer of electronic waste in the world per capita, but there is little happening to fix this in central government.
We know that repair is popular. We know most people don’t like throwing away things that they see as having value. So there’d be little risk of public backlash if politicians were to make repair easier. Meanwhile local authorities, waste companies and even many manufacturers and retailers agree that reuse and repair are preferable to recycling.
A YouGov poll we commissioned for Repair Day found that only 28% of Brits were able to successfully fix, or have fixed, their last electrical item that broke. 47% of those polled didn’t try to, or were unable to repair their last broken electrical item, and the top reasons for that were that repair was too expensive (38%), and that it was quicker to replace it (33%).
So why is there no political effort to make repair and reuse easier and cheaper in the UK? Because it’s complicated. There’s no silver bullet solution to making reuse and repair more common and accessible. And tackling this challenge is at the bottom of a long list of priorities for the government departments responsible. Most politicians aren’t hearing that there’s public demand for a better repair and reuse system.
So our challenge is to raise the profile of repair and reuse, and get them on the political agenda. We had the Manchester Declaration, launched in 2018, and there were still groups and MPs signing up to it. But we needed to make this support more visible to politicians, and whilst we were at it, we decided to have a refresh, and include some of the policies that could really make a difference.
So.. drumroll… the Repair and Reuse Declaration was born, co-created by many of those active in the sector: from community repair groups with lived experience of the barriers to fixing; to national policy experts familiar with the opportunities and barriers to creating change.
The new declaration will help to show the breadth of support for keeping our products in use for longer. Please help us raise the profile of these issues and build political support for tackling them at RepairReuseDeclaration.UK.
What are we asking for?
The declaration calls for politicians to support repair and reuse by implementing 5 key policies. A YouGov poll commissioned for the declaration launch showed strong support for all of these measures – polling results are indicated in brackets below (see note 1 for survey details).
We ask 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).
For more information on why these policies are important, and examples of what people are doing in other countries see here.
We hope you can join in and get your MP on board. Here’s to a future where business models and behaviours like reuse, repair, rental and borrowing are always prioritised, and throwaway products are a thing of the past.
Note 1: The poll was commissioned by The Restart Project. All figures are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,051 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12th – 13th October 2023. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
(Image by Mark A Phillips, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)