Fix it or ditch it?
Posted on 12th May 2021
Do you like to mend things when they are broken?
In Europe there’s now a ‘right to repair’ (R2R) movement. It argues that technical information and genuine parts should be widely available, allowing people to mend their appliances. However, manufacturers say that these should only be supplied to qualified professional repairers.
The R2R movement focusses on the millions of metric tons of electrical waste we produce every year.
Safety issues concerning R2R
Consumers planning to repair their electric appliances could be harmed if they don’t follow home electrical safety procedures. Following online advice, videos and learning from neighbours could put people at risk of fire or shock. After one successful simple repair, over-confidence could also lead people to take on bigger projects or to give advice to others.
The materials and components used for repairs could also be causes for concern due to the risks of sub-standard third-party parts. Organisations like Electrical Safety First say that thousands of counterfeit items are seized every day, but there is no way to know whether these might be used in repairs made by non-professional repairers. In addition, the equipment used in testing, if any, might not be properly set up.
Repairs to prevent waste
Increasing repairs could prevent waste but people need to know that the product is safe to use.
The market for second-hand electrical products should be governed by trading standards laws. However, this won’t protect friends or family members who are given used electrical products.
Product Conformance Certificates
When products first go on the market, they must pass safety tests, which include all parts of the appliance. Since 1 January 2021 UK Conformance Assessed (UKCA) markings have been in place for most goods that would previously have had a European CE marking. Businesses can continue to use CE markings until 1 January 2022.
For the future, R2R enthusiasts will need to find ways to make sure that genuine parts are stocked or safely repaired. There’s a drive for local control and growth, so the solution might be local community registered repairers.
If the trend for repairs continues, the cost of parts and ease of repair could become a much more important part of the buying decision for new appliances. Repair costs, the availability of genuine spare parts, and locally based repairers will reduce overheads and extend the useful life of appliances to reduce waste.
While we all want to see waste reduced, our priority is always electrical safety. Repairs for appliances should be carried out by competent people and properly checked before use.
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