Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Repair Cafés and the Circular Economy

It's almost a decade ago since the Repair Café idea emerged in Holland -
Meet the Woman Who Inspired a Global Fixing Community | Sugru
Repair Cafe - P2P Foundation
About - Repair Café (EN)

From the start it was about challenging our throw-away culture - but not about challenging businesses who provide professional repair services: 

An Effort to Bury a Throwaway Culture One Repair at a Time


“We used to have a lot of people who worked with their hands, but our whole society has developed into something service-based.”

Evelien H. Tonkens, a sociology professor at the University of Amsterdam, agreed. “It’s very much a sign of the times,” said Dr. Tonkens, who noted that the Repair Cafe’s anti-consumerist, anti-market, do-it-ourselves ethos is part of a more general movement in the Netherlands to improve everyday conditions through grass-roots social activism.

“It’s definitely not a business model,” Ms. Postma said. She added that because the Repair Cafe caters to people who find it too expensive to have their items fixed, it should not compete with existing repair shops. 

Amsterdam Tries to Change Culture With ‘Repair Cafes’ - The New York Times

The Dutch government certainly think it's a good thing: 

A Circular Economy in the Netherlands by 2050

“Easy to repair” as a standard requirement

‘In order to continue to meet our demand in the future, we need to convert to a circular system, in which resources are preserved and continually re-used. Wastage of valuable products and materials grieves me: I think that’s a shame. I intend to make an effort to reduce the amount of waste
we collectively produce. By encouraging everyone to repair things or have them repaired when they are broken, and by encouraging manufacturers to improve the repairability of their products. That is why I devised the Repair Café.

Manufacturers will only start making products that can be repaired more easily if this is financially attractive for them. This requires support from the government. For example, by extending a manufacturer’s responsibility for the proper functioning of a product. If a producer is required to give, for example, a five-year rather than a two-year guarantee for his products, it will be in his own interest to ensure that the item will not break down within five years. And that it can be easily repaired if it should break down anyway.

We hope that in five years’ time there will be more volunteer groups organising a Repair Café in their own neighbourhood once a month or once a week. We also expect that within five years “easy to repair” will be a standard requirement to be met by product designs.

Martine Postma

Repair Café foundation

A Circular Economy in the Netherlands by 2050

There is understandably nervousness coming from the conventional manufacturing sector:
Why are companies trying to make it illegal to repair our electronic devices? — Quartz

But it's where the economy is going:
'Repair cafés' are about fixing things – including the economy - The Conversation

Here's a handy video just out explaining things nicely:

Fancy a coffee? What Binds Circular Economy and Repair Cafes? Ana Coelho - YouTube

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