Zero Waste and The Right To Repair

image of a hammer and an ajustable spanner on a wooden surface

I was just reading the submission from Zero Waste Victoria to the Australia Productivity Commission on the right to repair.

They raise some great points.

Essentially what is happening is that some manufacturers are limiting the repair of their products to only be carried out by an “authorised repairer”. This of course means that there will be little to no competition when it comes to repairs and we all know what happens then. That’s right. They can charge just below the replacement cost and you’ll be left with no choice but to cough up the cash. With no one around to beat them on price you will probably think of trying to fix it yourself. But if you don’t have a right to repair the item then you could actually be breaking the law.

So what happens when you can’t afford the high price of repair? The item gets thrown out. More waste. And it could have been avoided had there been more than one place that was legally authorised to carry out the repair.

What would a ‘right to repair’ entail?

‘Right to repair’ will give consumers the ability to have items repaired at a competitive price from the repairer of their choice. Products that cannot be reasonably repaired should really be prohibited from manufacture and distribution in Australia. Here are some of the things we are talking about:

  • Electrical items (TV’s, computers, mobile phones)
  • Appliances including white goods and kitchen appliances
  • Tools and electrical goods
  • Items that are difficult to recycle, but could be repaired
  • Agricultural equipment
  • Vehicles have an IT or software component in them
  • Machinery that has an IT or software component
  • Fashion – clothing and shoes
  • Automotive vehicles

What is needed?

In the interests of reducing waste manufacturers should make information available so people can make purchase decisions based on repairability. Manuals and schematics should be easily accessible for at least a competently skilled person to enable repair. Guarantees which allow for repariabilty outside a warranty period are also needed, enabling accessibility to required parts or tools need for repair. Designs should take into account the right to repair, enabling disassembly and access to parts to be replaced. The government can give incentives to manufacturers that make items which last. After all there will be savings in the long term with less land needed for waste dumps, less time spent on dealing with waste, and potentially less pollution overall.

Many small businesses or sole traders have very useful insights to share which could be incredibly valuable to assist the right to repair inquiry. So don’t hesitate to make your submission!

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