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Restart Radio: The overlooked but fascinating world of standards

standards ECOS

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Janet, James and Restarter Ben Skidmore talk about the overlooked but fascinating world of product standards, and how they affect our right to repair devices. To learn more about standards, we hear from Chloe Fayole from ECOS, the European Environmental Citizens Organisation for Standardisation.

Before diving into standards, we discuss some recent news. To start, we celebrate Fixfest Italia, the first national community repair gathering in Italy. James tells us about his time at the event, and how exciting it was to meet people in the Italian network.

We also comment on the recent near-hysteria around plans of a Huawei 5G network rollout in the UK.

Product standards: the power of industry

During the show, we play our prerecorded interview with Chloe Fayole, who walks us through the world of standards at European level. Standards define guidelines for products or processes. They are not legislation per se, however, they are increasingly used as a tool to implement new legislation and policies. Therefore, Chloe warns, it is crucial to be aware of how industry-dominated standards are, and the need for more voices to be represented.

People want more repairable products, and the product standards developed at European level can affect the repairability and lifetime of our devices. Chloe talks about the importance of creating standards both in a horizontal way (for all products), which could include ease of disassembly or the provision of spare parts for a minimum of years, but also product-specific, going into the detail and particularities of each device.

Reclaiming the citizens’ voice

Product standards and our right to repair are closely linked. However, contributing to the discussion around product standards demands a lot of time and technical skills, and these conversations are heavily industry-dominated. So how can citizens be heard?

People have a role in expressing themselves and their expectations of products, adding the consumer perspective to the conversation. As an example, Chloe talks about ‘making obsolescence a scandal’ and reporting it, but also about the importance of gathering data to know the barriers experienced by consumers when trying to repair what they own. We also stress the need to include professional repairers in the conversation, given their direct expertise with repairability and issues affecting product lifetimes.

 

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