2023 was huge for The Restart Project and for repair in general. As the year draws to a close and with so much to celebrate, let’s look back at our top ten moments…
#10 – Mapping repair groups across the UK
It’s hard to believe, but the UK has never had a single map or list of all community repair groups across the country. Until this year! We teamed up with our partners in the Community Repair Network and Repair Café International to create the UK’s most comprehensive map of Repair Cafés, Restarters groups and other community repair projects – even we were surprised to learn that there are over 500 repair groups around the country!
#9 – Pushing for a universal Right to Repair
Together with our partners in the European Right to Repair campaign, we focused on the affordability of repair, an issue rarely tackled by legislation. Specifically, we’ve been pushing for a universal Right to Repair in an upcoming piece of EU legislation called the Right to Repair Directive, which aims to tackle the consumer rights aspect of repair.
This is not about the way products are designed. Instead, it’s about how manufacturers facilitate or impede the repair of products, including by setting prohibitive prices for spare parts. We came up with a very creative stunt—“The Price is Right”—in front of the EU Parliament that shocked MEPs with the high price of parts. We also published a fun video highlighting the perverse incentives to replace products, rather than repairing them.
Can’t see the video above? Watch it on YouTube here.
#8 – Publishing over 70,000 more records of repair data
As the main driving force behind the Open Repair Alliance, we collect, collate, clean and publish data about repairs attempted at community events around the world. This data, originally recorded by the Alliance’s growing number of data partners, is used by researchers, campaigners and companies to learn more about why products break and how they could be made easier to fix.
This year we broke all previous records by releasing data on a whopping 70,000 additional repair attempts, bringing the overall total to over 130,000 records.
#7 – Winning an award for our work with repair data
Publishing all that repair data is only one aspect of our work with data. Over the years, we’ve enlisted the help of our amazing community to analyse data and gain new insights into the environmental benefits of repair and the most common reasons certain products break. In turn, these findings have helped us push for Right to Repair policies, including more repairable smartphones and tablets (more on that below)!
So this year we were thrilled to win the prestigious European Union Prize for Citizen Science—Digital Communities Award! A huge thank you and congratulations to all of you in our community!
#6 – Starting the Student Repair Revolution
Engaging young people is a perennial challenge for the community repair movement. So this year, we teamed up with partners from the Community Repair Network to launch the Student Repair Revolution! Together, we’re working with university groups up and down the country, supporting and encouraging them to try whatever repair events work for them in their university and wider community.
#5 – Uncovering the waste behind recycling
In March, we spent a week testing all electrical products brought for recycling at a London reuse and recycling centre. We wanted to see whether they reusable. Shockingly, we found that almost half of the devices destined for recycling could be reused. All told, our study highlighted a huge opportunity to potentially divert over 30,000 products from the waste stream in the UK per week.
#4 – Co-organising the biggest ever gathering for UK community repair
In September, we partnered with Repair Cafe Wales to run Fixfest UK 2023. Over 120 representatives from community repair groups, universities, repair businesses, public bodies, waste agencies and more across the UK gathered in Cardiff for a memorable day of conversations, stories and inspiration. Together, we discussed how to make repair the norm in the UK and the roles we play within our own communities.
#3 – Launching the UK Repair & Reuse Declaration
After months of consultation with partners, members of the Community Repair Network and allied companies, we launched the UK Repair & Reuse Declaration. The Declaration calls on UK lawmakers to introduce five (overwhelmingly popular) policies that can help repair and reuse flourish across the country.
Since launching on International Repair Day in October, over 240 repair cafés, NGOs, businesses and MPs have signed up! Learn more and add your voice here.
#2 – Celebrating the largest International Repair Day yet
And speaking of International Repair Day, this year’s was the biggest ever! Our theme was ‘Repair for Everyone’ and we were delighted to see it playing out in practice with over 1,500 official events listed from the arctic circle to Aotearoa New Zealand’s southern island and hundreds of places in between.
We’re already thinking about how to make the next Repair Day even bigger. So save the date: the 19th of October 2024!
For inspiration, learn more about what happened on Repair Day 2023.
#1 – Securing more repairable smartphones and tablets
In a huge win for the Right to Repair, the EU passed new rules for smartphones and tablets, making them last longer and be easier to repair!
For new models released from June 2025, both independent repairs and end-users in the EU (and possibly beyond) will have access to repair information and (some) spare parts for at least 7 years after a product is taken off the market. In many cases, batteries will need to be user-replaceable. Manufacturers will also need to offer software and security updates for at least 5 years. The new rules will additionally introduce an EU-wide repair index for smartphones.
The European Right to Repair campaign, which we co-founded, had been pushing hard for these rules. And while we didn’t get everything we wanted, they are an important step towards a more repairable future. We can’t wait to build on this success!
Restart has always been people-powered and we couldn’t have done any of this without the support from our community, partners and allies. So, thank you to all of you who have helped us achieve so much this year. We can’t wait to keep building on what we’ve accomplished together in 2024!
Featured photo: Mark A Phillips