News: UK - Restart Project leads a remanufacturing revolution
The Restart Project aims to reduce WEEE by encouraging communities to reuse through repair and remanufacture.
Tuesday, 18th June 2013
Ugo Vallauri and Janet Gunter are the co-founders of The Restart Project, which aims to stop people throwing away broken gadgets and other electrical items and, instead, get them fixed by taking them along to a Restart party. These parties have been taking place in church halls, market stalls or community centres across London and are now spreading to the rest of the UK. Damaged and broken devices and gadgets are taken apart, and hopefully repaired, by the teams of fixers that the project brings together. The idea came out of work Mr Vallauri has done with Computer Aid, a charity that refurbishes old computers for use in developing nations. "They fix almost everything in those places," he said, "they just don't have the money to buy them new. By contrast, in developed nations people have lost the will to fix broken gadgets. A combination of convenience and cultural pressure leads people to buy new rather than repair". "Also people have lost trust in commercial repairs. They do not know who to go to and who they can trust, especially when it comes to electronics and electrical goods." said Mr Vallauri. The idea with Restart is to overcome that fear by getting people involved with the repair process themselves. On average about 20-25 people bring in something in need of repair to a Restart party and by acquiring some basic skills can give a piece of equipment a second or even third life. "Opening up a kettle, coffee grinder or laptop and helping to take it to pieces is a powerful way to get over that fear," said Ben Skidmore, one of Restart's roster of regular fixers. "That fear tends to evaporate completely if the item in question gets fixed," he said. The fixers at Restart parties include people like Mr Skidmore who have been tinkering as a hobby for years, to others such as Francis Dove who runs an electrical repair shop. When someone walks in to a Restart party with a damaged or broken gadget, it goes through a 'triage stage' during which its owner describes the symptoms and people offer their opinions about what's wrong. Then, more often than not, it is put on a tabletop, taken to pieces and the repair work begins. Mr Vallauri said, "Manufacturers could choose to use components that cost a fraction more and radically lengthen the life of the average gadget. Instead, more often than not they go cheap and produce goods that have obsolescence built in." Fixing items that suffer this manufacturing neglect is straightforward even though few people are aware of it. Mr Vallauri quoted research which suggests that about 23% of the waste electrical equipment in recycling centres could be refurbished and repaired easily which could prove a huge boost to local economies in financial and social terms. As most recycling policies involve local authorities signing a deal with a contractor to manage the waste, people are not involved with what they discard. This convenience comes at a high social cost. For more details, please go to the external weblink.