TDEG whole group meeting – 19th October 2022
Following the successful launch of the Repair Cafe in Tideswell earlier this year, it was felt that it would be good to hear about the work of the Restart Project, which was set up in London more than ten years ago. This project focusses on repairing broken electronic products, and on reducing our consumption of them in the first place. Fiona Dear, Co-Director of Restart, gave us a very interesting and thought provoking presentation, involving us all in thinking about the impact of electronic items, from their production to their consumption.
Fiona’s presentation can be viewed here.
Fiona said that the UK is the second largest producer of e-waste, producing more than 50 million tonnes per year. She pointed out the hidden impacts of electronic goods – carbon emissions are embedded in their lifecycle. More than 50% of their carbon emissions take place before the goods end up in our hands – through mining, production and transport.
Making one laptop produces about 263kg of carbon emissions. Manufacturers expect laptops to be upgraded every four years, but research shows that even extending the use of a laptop to six to eight years would make a huge difference to the environmental impact.
Research also shows that although many people feel it would be good to repair products more, that is not reflected in our behaviour, and only a very small percentage are actually repaired. This seems to be because the products are not made for repair – it can be very difficult to get the parts to change the hardware, and often the product ceases to be able to support current software. The cost can be high, and there are not many repair options. Fiona spoke of the need for cultural change, to shift people into thinking of repair and rental, rather than continuous consumption. Things that could help encourage people to repair include a network of repairers (the Repair Cafe has a local directory of professional and specialist repairers), and the government expanding right to repair rules, as they have done in Europe. Fiona also suggested that local institutions, such as councils and universities, could be asked about their procurement policy to help influence change.
A TDEG member said that there is an organisation called PCrefurb in Glossop, which takes four to five year old commercial laptops, and refurbishes and redistributes them to those most in need. If you know of any organisations replacing their tech that could donate such computers, do let them know. More info here.