To Repair or not to Repair...
Without any doubt you have already tried to repair a household appliance and/or an electronic device. And let me guess, it proved not to be an easy task. Sometimes spare parts and technical information are not available. Or you simply do not succeed to open up the appliance without causing damage. Throwing it away and replacing it is then the only solution.
In current times of climate change and environmental awareness, people no longer accept that things cannot be repaired. Many voices call for a shift from a throw-away society to a more sustainable model. The possibility to repair things that break plays a major role in this shift. Legislators around the world seem to have understood the importance of repair.
The right to repair
In July 2021 new legislation has come into force in the UK requiring manufacturers of white goods and TVs to make repair information and spare parts available for ten years. In the US, Congressman Joe Morelle introduced a bill in June that goes even further. In the ‘Fair Repair Act’, both consumers and businesses are given the fundamental right to carry out repairs on their own equipment. Equipment manufacturers will be obliged to make available all diagnostic and repair information, parts, and tools in a timely manner, and on fair and reasonable terms.
In Europe, manufacturers already have to comply with ecodesign directives, and are obliged to provide spare parts for 10 years. The European Parliament is also currently considering the introduction of a mandatory repair score. Italy and France will soon be introducing legislation banning the artificial ageing of consumer products to extend product lifetime.
Repairability becomes visible
France was already pioneering by introducing the ‘repairability index’ for consumer electronics at the beginning of this year. The easier products are to disassemble, and the more readily available spare parts and technical information are, the higher the repair score. Also, the price of the spare parts is considered, next to some other product-specific criteria, for instance, the number of disassembly steps. Researchers are currently investigating the impact of the repairability index both on consumer behaviour, and on product design allowing better repairability.
One thing is clear, the maintenance and asset management community should embrace the current uprise in awareness of the importance of repair. We will not only benefit from legislation that is also applicable on industrial assets, but having consumers thinking about repair might inspire young people to also take up a job in maintenance in repair. Let’s surf the waves of the right to repair movement!
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