The Restart Project are strong advocates for the Right to Repair in the UK. We’re proud co-founders of the European Right to Repair campaign, and we work together with other UK members to advance Right to Repair here and across Europe.
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 25kg 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 Right to Repair changes come into effect in 2021 and we will benefit from this round in the UK.
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 expands these regulations to cover mobiles, computers and IT products. So far, we don’t see any evidence of this.
What you can do
Get involved with our work:
- Join our community by fixing, sharing skills or organising community repair events
- Ask your local repair group to sign The Manchester Declaration for the Right to Repair. If they’ve signed, work through them to contact your MP and ask for their endorsement.
- Follow Right to Repair conversations on our community forum
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.
Last year, we held the second Fixfest UK, online. This followed on from 2018’s first-ever UK-wide event in Manchester with 59 activists from 25 groups from Belfast to Pembrokeshire to Leeds. Together there we drafted The Manchester Declaration, calling for more repairable products.