How to support Right to Repair in the UK

A large group of people, some holding giant tools and signing a large document labelled 'The UK Repair and Reuse Declaration'
The Restart Project are strong advocates for the Right to Repair in the UK and across Europe. We’re proud co-founders of the European Right to Repair campaign and also work together with UK partners to advance the Right to Repair here.

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What is the Right to Repair?

The Right to Repair is a global movement to make sure everyone has the right to fix the products they own. It aims to change regulations on how these things are made in the first place, to make them easy and affordable to repair, as well as to expand our rights after purchase.

Why do we need a Right to Repair?

The problem is simple. The products we use everyday are getting harder and harder to fix. Electronic waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world, with phone and laptops manufacturers making their products harder to fix. The UK is the second highest producer of e-waste per capita on Earth, producing 24 kg per person per year! And it’s not just digital devices – the amount of household appliances failing within 5 years of their purchase is also skyrocketing. 

From our own community repair events, we know that most of the products that are brought in could be fixed. But we’re increasingly faced with barriers to repair. Our top three are:

  • lack of access to spare parts or the price of these parts
  • lack of repair documentation and tools
  • product design increasingly making disassembly impossible 

And we’re facing a new one: companies using software in devices to prevent professionals and DIYers from fixing the things we own.

Repair is simply common sense. People are tired of throw-away products: they remember when appliances lasted longer. One day we will look back at the past couple of decades and just shake our heads.

On every metric – emissions, social impact, waste – this can’t go on. So we’re committing to doing something about it. We want the Right to Repair.

What have we achieved so far?

There is massive public support to bring down barriers to repair, and for all of us to have the Right to Repair the stuff we buy. People overwhelmingly want more repairable products and they think the government should ensure this – more and more studies show this, both at European level and in the UK. A 2018 study published by the Green Alliance proves public support for repairable products.

Together with allies, in 2019, we campaigned successfully in support of new, groundbreaking European “Right to Repair” measures, for fridges, lamps, televisions and displays, dishwashers, and washing machines. (These measures require that appliances can be repaired with “commonly available” tools, and require manufacturers to give professionals access to repair documentation and spare parts for up to 10 years.) 

These changes come into effect in 2021 and also extend to the UK.

Since then, as members of Right to Repair Europe, we have successfully campaigned for the approval of new EU rules that require manufacturers to equip future devices with user-replaceable batteries, extend the duration of software and hardware support for smartphones and more.

What can we do here in the UK?

But we have serious questions about the future of the regulations in the UK after Brexit. If the UK wants to “do better” than Europe, it is already clear how. We can make Europe’s new measures universal, extending them to community repairers and DIYers, not just professionals. And we also need to pile on the pressure to make sure that the UK remains aligned with Europe as it continues to expand. So far, we don’t see any evidence of this.

So, in October 2023, we launched the UK Repair and Reuse Declaration, calling on the UK government to make it easier for people to repair products and pass them on to others for a second life.

What you can do

Get involved with our work:

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About us

The Restart Project helps people learn how to repair their broken electronics, through our Restart Parties: free community repair events where participants can work with a skilled volunteer to fix anything with a plug or a battery.

They’re spaces for learning skills and reflecting about how we consume in the first place. Repair is fun, it’s social, it saves money, and helps us be creative and constantly learn.

We’re based in London and we help other groups get started. And we’re part of a larger movement of community repair groups across the world, which keeps growing.

In 2022, we held the third international Fixfest, bringing together community repair representatives from around the globe. We also held Fixfest UK in Cardiff in 2023 and online in 2020. This followed on from 2018’s first-ever UK-wide event for community repair with 59 activists from 25 groups from Belfast to Pembrokeshire to Leeds.