This post was co-authored by Markus Piringer, DIE UMWELTBERATUNG and Orla Butler, EEB.
Last week, Austria launched a new repair bonus, a nationwide scheme enabling consumers to claim back half the cost of the repair of an old electrical device. Austrian Climate Minister Leonore Gewessler launched the scheme with the intention of ‘making repair attractive again’. Up to €200 of the cost of a repair of electrical and electronic devices can now be paid from the Austria-wide subsidy pot, which means cheaper repairs, less e-waste and a boost for local repair businesses!
Private individuals residing in Austria can redeem the repair bonus for cost estimates or for the repair of their devices. The range of products eligible for the repair bonus includes almost all electrical and electronic equipment commonly used in private households. This includes those with a power cord, rechargeable battery, and battery or solar modules. Considering how dependent we are on these ICT devices in our everyday lives, cheaper and easier repair is more important than ever.
Making repair more accessible is a central part of the Right to Repair. That is why the large number of repairers involved in the scheme is so important. As of the launch of the repair bonus on 26 April, there are about 1,200 companies all over Austria accepting the bonus. The full list of companies participating is listed on the repair bonus website. The fact that so many repair businesses and independent repairers are involved is great, as it makes it even more convenient for consumers to visit their local repairer to get their device fixed.
So, how does this work for Austrian consumers? With the bonus, device repairs are now half the price – so users can simply download the bonus voucher online and go to one of the companies that accepts the bonus. Each voucher funds 50% of the repair cost, up to €200 per product repair. It also subsidises 50% of the price of a cost estimate of a repair, up to a maximum of €30. The bonus can be redeemed when the invoice is paid and must be valid at this point in time, regardless of when the order was placed. As soon as the voucher has been redeemed, a new voucher can be applied for and used to repair another device. The customers then pay the difference, which makes the repair very inexpensive overall. With the repair bonus being funded with €130 million from the Next Generation EU pandemic rescue fund, Austrians can apply for the bonus as long as funds are available.
This isn’t the first initiative Austria has taken to make repair more affordable. The idea is based on repair vouchers used by the City of Vienna since autumn 2020. This bonus covered a wide range of consumer goods and was capped at €100. The scheme was hugely successful, and led to thousands of reduced price repairs on all types of products. Data released last year about the pilot showed that in over 90 percent of the cases, the defective items could be successfully repaired and given a second chance. The success of this scheme demonstrates the effectiveness of repair and has saved a significant amount of resources and CO2 emissions by avoiding replacing these items with new products. Plus, in 2020, the Austrian government reduced VAT on repairs for bikes, clothing and shoes.
With device repairs half price nationwide, getting an old device repaired is now more affordable and accessible for all Austrians. These new measures, combined with previous acts, confirm Austria’s commitment to the Right to Repair, and could be used as an example for other countries to take first steps towards a repair-friendly world.