Electronics repair charity powers up ‘citizen-led’ circular economy
Social enterprise The Restart Project will scale up its electronic repair activities by becoming a people-led platform for circular economy innovation.
The London-based charity, which has only been in existence since 2012, has already helped divert 795kg of electronic waste from landfill in the capital by enabling local communities to repair and fix their own gadgets to increase the lifespan of electronics and electrical equipment.
It is currently seeking funding to help expand its work in reconnecting people with repair, and plans to develop a “people-centred circular economy” approach whereby it can test new business models for reuse and repair, be an advocate for waste prevention, and offer citizen perspectives on ecodesign.
The charity also intends to broaden its education and reskilling outreach work through the growth of Restart Parties, skill sharing workshops and working with teachers on the development of materials for enabling repair.
Another area it is keen to explore is that of disruption – looking at projects that can help promote creative transformation and behaviour change in the field of circular economy thinking. Earlier this month edie reported on the rise of global repair cafes and hackerspaces, and how momentum on circularity could be fast-tracked through this grassroots-led model.
Commenting on its first official year, the Restart Project said these future activities would help feed into more intermediate objectives. These include enabling better product design, and aiding the emergence of more ‘civil economies’ in the field of electronics repair.
On a wider level, the organisation has called on the Government to remove or reduce VAT on repairs and pushed for more recognition of reuse within the waste hierarchy. It also feels that the role of independent repair enterprises and civil society organisations is being overlooked in the emerging circular economy agenda.
The Restart Project has found over the course of 55 or so workshops it has held that repair success rate is often limited by three key factors: the lack of freely accessible, official service manuals; the price and availability of quality spare parts; trade-offs between repairability and miniaturisation, making repairs more challenging and upgrades impossible.