A drop in VAT on the labour for repair activities, as recently introduced in Sweden, would make it “more economical to repair products through authorised routes out of warranty,” the report claims.

This is one of several policy recommendations which techUK insists could help the sector to make products more durable and to support repair and reuse.

The organisation also calls for “consistent and clear” advice to the public on the deletion of data on electronic devices to encourage their reuse, and for research into the use of 3D printing to generate simple spare parts.

“We no longer operate in a market where electronic devices are used and disposed of in a short period of time,” techUK’s head of environment and compliance Susanne Baker said.

“With the market for reused smartphones outperforming markets for new phones, it is clear that strategies to support reuse must be developed. For example, using cloud technology to free up memory and redesigning phones to avoid common sources of failures is working.”

Appetite for innovation

Last month, Baker told audience members at edie Live that business investment in digital technologies such as blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI) could kickstart a resource-efficient economic boom within the UK.

These comments chime with the findings of today’s (13 June) report, which highlights the potential of new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning to prolong the life of products.

It cites the Government’s latest figures which suggest that digital technologies have the potential to slash resource costs by £10bn. IoT-enabled predictive maintenance models are helping to prevent equipment failures, boost product quality, ultimately, drive profit, the report finds.

Baker added: “While there are still issues to address in the sector, it is notable that high-level manufacturing strategies are starting to align with circular economy goals and that companies are not only innovating to develop solutions to tackle barriers to repair but also exploring how they can maximise value at the end-of-life.

“We urge the Government to harness this appetite for innovation, by supporting and trialling novel approaches, supporting the deployment of proven solutions and by thinking about how to make professional repair as cost effective as possible.”

George Ogleby

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