This article was translated and adapted from HOP’s website

The Club de la Durabilité (literally “Durability Club”) is a network of companies committed to extending the lifespan of products led by HOP (Halte à l’Obsolescence Programmée). In their latest report, they share in a unique practical guide the best practices and recommendations for the growth of more accessible and reliable repair services.

The democratization of repair: an environmental necessity facing many obstacles
Repair is essential to reduce the impact of our items by extending their lifespan and avoiding their premature replacement. In fact, the manufacturing phase of equipment is solely responsible for the majority of the environmental impact of products: it accounts for nearly 80% of the carbon footprint of digital equipment!

However, when faced with a breakdown, while 89% of French people seek information on repair, only 36% actually use it. How can this gap be explained?

Price appears as the primary barrier (for 68% of French people) once it exceeds one-third of the product’s repurchase price. Consumers also doubt the reliability of repair due to obstacles posed by manufacturers such as premature obsolescence (51%), as well as concerns about professionalism, warranties (42%), and the complexity of repair (40%).

Best practices to spread for more reliable repair services
Although the price of repair is identified as the primary barrier to its democratization, the majority of repairers do not make substantial margins on their services today. Reducing the price represents a real challenge for the sector, facing both technical and cultural obstacles.

To achieve this, the members of the Club share in this guide a toolbox of best practices that repair stakeholders can already use. The main lever is to reassure consumers about the reliability of repair to enhance the perception of quality and price. This involves warranties, as well as a high level of transparency and clarity regarding repair terms (price, duration, solutions in case of failure, etc.).

Repair can also be integrated into service offerings, such as IT management or phone subscription, to maximize value for the customer. Diversifying repair services – whether at home, in a workshop, or through video conferencing – also allows adaptation to the needs and budgets of consumers. Citizen support and empowerment through awareness and encouragement of self-repair are essential levers to spread this practice to a wider audience.

Today, repair professionals can optimize their costs through several mechanisms. For example, they can use used parts by developing cannibalization, which involves recovering functional parts from irreparable devices. Artificial intelligence can also optimize logistical costs, for example, through pre-intervention self-diagnostic solutions that anticipate the type of breakdown and the need for spare parts. Finally, the automation of certain tasks, such as spare parts management, can also represent long-term efficiency gains in the case of large quantities.

The repair bonus: a national challenge to democratize repair
While repair stakeholders have resources to improve their services, public authorities have a real responsibility to support the industry. The repair fund, a program obtained by HOP in the AGEC law, both reduces the price of repair by applying a discount to consumers’ bills and strengthens repair services by establishing a network of certified repairers (Qualirépar for the electrical and electronic equipment sector).

Implemented in December 2022 for the EEE sector, the practical guide provides an assessment of its first months of implementation and highlights areas for improvement:

  • Improve governance
  • Simplify the operation and burden on repairers
  • Expand eligibility to previously excluded breakdowns and all repair services
  • Increase bonuses…

Good news, progress has already been made by HOP this summer: a National Repair Committee has been created to improve the transparency of the program, new breakdowns and services are becoming eligible, and bonuses will be increased in the fall. The repair fund is also being implemented in other REP sectors, such as textiles or sports and leisure articles. The widespread adoption and improvement of this program are strong challenges that HOP and the members of the Sustainability Club continue to closely monitor.

Strengthening eco-design rules to change the model
While the repair bonus is essential to reduce the final cost of repair, the main obstacles faced by repairers are upstream. Repair faces competition from a market dominated by new, low-priced, often non-durable, and non-repairable products, which doubly penalize them.

The difficulty of accessing spare parts and the obstacles put in place by manufacturers, such as serialization – the cause of HOP’s recent complaint against Apple in December 2022 – are still realities for many repairers.

To change the model and shift towards a circular economy, it is essential for public authorities to continue strengthening product eco-design rules and the right to repair, and ensure their proper implementation. In 2024, the arrival of the durability index on our shelves will be a new step in this direction in France. Facing this challenge, the Sustainability Club will convene a new “Eco-design and Durability” working group and present its recommendations in January 2024.

You can download the whole report in French here.