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UK Restart Project encourages reuse and remanufacturing

June 19, 2013

restartProject brings people together to fix and reuse broken electrical items at Restart “parties”.

CRR reports that the Restart Project, founded by Ugo Vallauri and Janet Gunter, aims to reduce WEEE by encouraging communities to repair and remanufacture broken electrical items instead of throwing them away by taking them to Restart parties, which have been taking place in London and are now spreading across the UK.

The Restart parties have been held at church halls, market stalls and community centres, with damaged goods taken to the meetings to be taken apart and repaired by teams of “fixers” brought together by the project.

Vallauri explains that the project came about after his experiences working with Computer Aid – a charity that refurbishes old computers for developing nations, through which he noticed that those in less developed countries “fix everything […] they just don’t have the money to buy them new. By contrast, in developed nations people have lost the will to fix broken gadgets. A combination of convenience and cultural pressure leads people to buy new rather than repair”.

He added that those in more developed nations have “lost trust in commercial repairs. They do not know who to go to and who they can trust, especially when it comes to electronics and electrical goods”; and so the Restart Project aims to “overcome that fear” by allowing people involvement in the repair process.

An average Restart party sees around 20 to 25 people bringing in items to repair, and can learn to give a piece of equipment a second or third life by learning some basic skills. Upon entering a party, the broken object goes through a “triage stage” where the owner describes the symptoms and opinions are offered as to what could be wrong. If it is deemed fixable, it will then be taken to pieces and repaired; with fixers varying from people who enjoy “tinkering” with objects as a hobby to those who own electrical repair shops themselves.

“Manufacturers could choose to use components that cost a fraction more and radically lengthen the life of the average gadget,” said Vallauri. “Instead, more often than not they go cheap and produce goods that have obsolescence built in.”

He added that in many cases, fixing an object can be straightforward but people are unaware of it, stating that according to research, 23 percent of waste equipment in recycling centres could be refurbished or repaired easily, which could boost local economies. However, most recycling policies see a contractor being signed to manage the waste, so people are not involved with what they throw away.


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