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Moving towards a circular economy through electronics repair

Updated: Jun 16, 2023

In today's world, where the technology industry is growing rapidly, electronics have become an essential part of our daily lives. However, with the growth of the technology industry comes the issue of electronic waste. The linear economy that we have been following for so long is not sustainable as it puts a massive amount of pressure on the Earth's limited resources and increases waste production. To reduce the impact of electronic waste, we must transition towards a more circular economy, where the resources are kept in use for as long as possible, waste is minimized, and products are designed for repair and reuse. In this blog post, we will explore the role of electronics repair in moving towards a circular economy.


The Importance of Circularity


The concept of circularity focuses on creating a closed-loop system that aims to reduce waste and promote sustainability. In a circular economy, resources are used and reused, making it a sustainable and environmentally friendly system. The most important feature of the circular economy is that it is not a one-time process, but rather a continuous cycle of using and reusing resources. This is where repairing electronics plays a crucial role.


The Case of Broken Smartphone


Let's take the example of a broken smartphone. In the current linear economy, a broken smartphone would likely end up in a landfill, contributing to the massive amounts of electronic waste that we produce. On the other hand, in a circular economy, the smartphone would be repaired, and its life would be extended, reducing the demand for new resources to create a replacement phone and decreasing the amount of waste generated from discarded electronics. Repairing electronics can also create jobs and generate economic value, especially in local repair businesses.


The importance of repair


Repairing electronics is a critical step towards a circular economy. By repairing electronics, we can extend the life of products, reduce waste, and prevent the depletion of finite resources. Repairing electronics also creates job opportunities and generates economic value, particularly in local repair businesses. Additionally, repair helps to reduce the carbon footprint of electronic devices by reducing the need for new production and transportation of replacements.





The Role of the EU


The European Union has recognized the importance of electronics repair in the transition towards a circular economy and has passed laws to support the right to repair. These laws aim to increase the durability and repairability of products, as well as make it easier for consumers to repair their own electronics or have them repaired by third-party repair businesses. Manufacturers are now required to make spare parts available for a minimum of ten years after a product is sold, and repair manuals must be provided to professional repairers. These regulations will increase the lifespan of electronic products and reduce the amount of waste generated from discarded electronics.


Berlin, Repair and Circularity


Berlin, a city known for its vibrant and innovative spirit, is also leading the way towards circularity. The Berlin Circular Economy Program aims to promote a circular economy by implementing sustainable practices and reducing waste. One of the key aspects of this program is the promotion of repair and reuse, which is evident in initiatives such as the Repair Café Berlin and the city's "Repair Bonus" scheme, which offers financial incentives for repairing household appliances. By promoting electronics repair and reuse, Berlin is setting an example for other cities to follow and contributing to a more sustainable future and circular economy.


Conclusion


In conclusion, promoting circularity is crucial in moving towards a sustainable future. Repairing electronics is just one step towards this goal, but it can have a significant impact. By creating a network of repair options, we can make repair more accessible and affordable, preventing electronics from ending up in landfills and moving towards a more sustainable system and achieve a more circular economy through electronic repair. To promote circularity, it is essential to support and invest in local repair businesses and advocate for policies that support the right to repair. Together, we can create a more sustainable future.


Sources:


Ellen MacArthur Foundation. (2019). What is a circular economy? https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/circular-economy/concept


European Commission. (2021). Right to Repair. https://ec.europa.eu/environment/eussd/smgp/right_to_repair.htm


European Parliament. (2020). Making products more sustainable: EU-wide rules on sustainability. https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/society/20201007STO89403/making-products-more-sustainable-eu-wide-rules-on-sustainability


European Parliament. (2021, March 25). EU Right to Repair: Making products last longer. Retrieved from https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/society/20210325STO01204/eu-right-to-repair-making-products-last-longer


iFixit. (n.d.). Right to Repair. Retrieved from https://www.ifixit











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