Photo by Mark A Phillips

This year’s edition of Fixfest, the international gathering for community repair, took place in Brussels from 30th September to 2nd October. The weekend combined policy talks, fun repairing stunts and workshops. 
On Friday the 30th of September, the Right to Repair Campaign organized the policy session “European Right to Repair still loading ⌛️”, which launched Fixfest. We focused on how policy developments in Europe can make repair easier, cheaper and more accessible for everyone.

After the conference, fixers descended on a busy Brussels shopping street to call for longer lasting gadgets.

Fixfest launch-event: European Right to Repair still loading ⌛️

Everyday, short-lived electronic devices are sold on the EU market, wasting EU citizens’ money and depleting the world of finite resources. The stream of e-waste reached 50 million tonnes in 20181 and is expected to double by 2050, reaching 120 million tonnes annually2.

This growing consumption of electronics has significant environmental impacts due to energy and material intensive activities such as resource extraction, manufacturing and end of life treatment. When these products are discarded, only a small portion can be effectively recovered through recycling. Keeping products in use for as long as possible reduces the need to make more! 

Extending the lifetime of all washing machines, notebooks, vacuum cleaners and smartphones in the EU by just one year would save around 4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually by 2030, the equivalent of taking over 2 million cars off the roads for one year3

More than half of EU consumers have environmental impact in mind when shopping4 and 8 out of 10 are in favour of making repairs easier5. Furthermore, making repairs more accessible would boost quality jobs and turnover among repairers, manufacturers, dealers of spare parts and sellers of used products in all EU Member States6. Repairs are labour-intensive activities which are difficult to move abroad while the effective production of consumer goods often takes place outside Europe.

In the past few months, the right to repair has been hitting the news as policy-makers and manufacturers worldwide have started to look into this issue. At EU level, things are moving but repair is still far from being easy, cheap and accessible for everyone

During the conference professional and community repairers, innovative tech start-ups and environmental NGOs reiterated how EU policies can be instrumental in overcoming remaining barriers to repair. We also presented the environmental savings and socio-economic opportunities that transitioning out of the throw-away economy of electronics could bring to Europe.

Agenda

9:30 – 10:20 Introduction to the campaign & remaining barriers to repair, moderated by Narmine Abou Bakari, Digital Rights Campaigner, Greens/EFA

10:30 – 11:20 First panel: The ecological potential of repair, moderated by Jean-Pierre Schweitzer, EEB

  • Alberto Vazquez Ruiz, Project Coordinator at Catapa
  • Yoko Dams, Researcher at Vito
  • Simona Staikova -Van Bommel, Team leader of the Contract law Unit, DG for Justice and Consumers, European Commission
  • Q&A (20 min)

11:20 – 11:30 Coffee break

11:30 – 12:20 Second panel: Repair as a socio-economic opportunity for Europe, moderated by Cristina Ganapini, Campaigner, European Right to Repair Campaign

12:20 – 12:30 Wrap-up and invitation to Fixfest 2022

1 & 2 October: Fixfest main event

The fun then continued during the weekend sessions of Fixfest, which were organised by Right to Repair members The Restart Project, Repair & Share and Repair Together. Here we turned our attention to the transformative potential that community repair brings to the table. 

During these two days community repairers came together to share expertise, tips and tricks on Right to Repair, as well as on running successful community initiatives, how best to carry out specific repairs, prolonging the lifespan of devices via software, and much more!

Photo by Mark A Phillips

More news

12 January 2023

New York’s Right To Repair Act –  a big step for repair, but big tech managed to considerably slim it down. Tractor manufacturer – and long-standing opponent to R2R – John Deere signed a repair agreement with US farmers. Will they actually respect it? 

22 December 2022

We celebrate an important repair win on part pairing: this directive finally bans software tricks which hinder the replacement of batteries. We regret however, that an exemption for products used in wet conditions leaves many products such as electric toothbrushes with hardly replaceable batteries.