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Restart Radio: top 5 good news stories of 2015

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After talking about a surprisingly smooth laptop screen repair, and a failed “life hack” involving a keyboard and a dishwasher, we discussed our top good news stories of the year.

As with all good news, there is often a “boo” to add to the initial “yay!”

5. Apple is quietly investing in mobile repair and reuse (Yay!) Apple has never sold refurbished iPhones in first world markets, unlike all of their other devices. And we’ve noticed they have become more repairable, partly to help Apple build a business model for in-store repairs and reuse. However access to parts is becoming a serious issue and there are fears Apple is restricting supply to indie repairers. And we know the move towards repair is simply to sell more to secondary and tertiary markets, and they are even attempting to speed up the upgrade cycle in the US. (Boo!) So this is a case in point about “circular economy” – if we close all of the loops (and broaden them to new markets), but accelerate global manufacture without cleaning it up, we have a problem!

4. As a part of the “Circular Economy Package” the Ecodesign Directive will be broadened, beyond “energy efficiency” ratings – which apply mostly to white goods, heating and cooling equipment and big displays – to look at resource efficiency, which is more relevant for the majority of devices we see at Restart Parties. Meaning, ecodesign will focus on longevity of devices where the majority of resources are consumed in manufacture. One concrete action they will look at is, starting with displays, to focus on safer disassembly (for reuse and recycling but we think repair fits in here too). Other commentators expected much more in this package to promote reuse, but we had, er, very low expectations.

3. Europe exports less toxic e-waste than we thought. A CWIT (Countering WEEE Illegal Trade) study shows that only an estimated 4% of e-waste is illegally exported from Europe, to places like Ghana. What this does mean is that the problem is really right here in Europe, where we are still landfilling up to 1/3 of e-waste, much of it working and/or repairable.

2. Fairphone introduced the first modular mobile on the market. Hugely disruptive both for being so repairable by design, but also for the low prices of spare parts. Is this the future of repair? Simple repairs most people could perform themselves? Is this a model for further disruption in hardware? Community-based, values-based projects, that lead by example?

1. There is a real appetite for Restarting in educators and students. We’re currently working with a school in New York, and talking to two in London. We’re talking to two amazing groups: Mouse and Biomodd London about education collaborations. We think there is real scope to activate Restart groups in schools, promoting hands-on skills, but not just Arduinos and Raspberry Pis, but also actually hacking, troubleshooting and fixing the devices we use to learn. Watch this space!

 

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  1. […] listening to the Restart Project podcast I heard a comment that the average drill is only used for 10 minutes in it’s lifetime and […]

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