June 17, 2024

Why do we need to repair or fix items more?

Why do we need to repair or fix items more
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The existence of repair and repair centres in local communities is important, as the repair of used items extends the useful life of items that would otherwise end up as waste.
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Why do we need to repair or fix items more?

by Elena Yiangou,
Environmental Education, ΚyklOIKOdromio (

The existence of repair and repair centres in local communities is important, as the repair of used items extends the useful life of items that would otherwise end up as waste. They help to protect the environment by promoting sustainable development and the principles of the circular economy. Repair and overhaul centres are small shop entities that repair, overhaul, refurbish and maintain items. By using repair centres we reduce the volume of municipal solid waste, protect the environment, save resources and raw materials, encourage reuse and create new jobs in the repair and maintenance sector.

Repair centres today face several challenges that contribute to their decline. Some of the reasons include:

  • Reduction of replacement costs: Falling prices on many consumer goods make it more economical for the consumer to replace the product rather than repair it.
  • Difficulty in repairing new technologies: Modern products are often more complex and difficult to repair, requiring specialized tools and knowledge.
  • Manufacturers' policies: Some manufacturers discourage repair of their products, either through their design or through warranties and support policies.
  • Changing consumption habits: Consumers often prefer to buy new products.
  • Increase in spare parts services: Increased prices on spare parts or difficulty in finding them can increase the cost of the repair.

In April 2024, the European Parliament voted in favour of new rules supporting repair and the consumer's right to repair. In particular, under the proposed Rules:

  • the manufacturer must repair a product at a reasonable price and within a reasonable time frame after the legal warranty period,
  • facilitating access to spare parts, tools and repair information for consumers by providing incentives to choose repair including repair vouchers and cash prizes
  • use of an online platform to help consumers find local repair services and shops selling repaired products.

The new rules oblige manufacturers to offer fast and cost-effective repair services and to inform consumers of their right to do so. Every time a good is repaired within its warranty period, the warranty will be extended for an additional year, encouraging consumers to choose repair over replacement.

After the expiry of the legal guarantee, the manufacturer will still be obliged to repair certain common household appliances that are already technically repairable under European law, such as washing machines, vacuum cleaners and even smart phones. Other product categories may be added to this list in the future. Consumers will also have the right to ask for a loan of an appliance while theirs is being repaired or, if it cannot be repaired, they will have the alternative of opting for a remanufactured product.

The European Commission's new Circular Economy Action Plan declares its intention to make the wider economic framework more favourable to repair. Measures could include environmental taxation and the possibility for Member States to use value added tax (VAT) rates to promote circular economy activities targeted at final consumers. In particular, repair services in the light of its waste management targets, the Belgian government has considered reducing VAT on small repairs and supporting repair activities as strategies to improve the circular economy and reuse.

The Finnish Ministry of the Environment has adopted a national waste plan, "From recycling to a circular economy", which includes strategies to study various economic instruments to enhance repair and maintenance services. A reduction in VAT for repairs and support for municipalities to enable repair through the provision of low-cost premises for small repair services are proposed.

The French government has included specific strategies and measures in the Circular Economy Roadmap to stimulate repair activities, such as creating jobs related to repair and reuse, simply informing people about the possibility of repair, and supporting communication campaigns and awareness-raising programmes to inform the public about repair possibilities. In addition, the French government adopted two amendments to the Consumer Code to criminalise the planned obsolescence of a product's life cycle and to improve the reparability of products.

The Swedish government also applied a VAT rebate for repair activities and, as part of its sustainable consumption strategies, introduced requirements to include information on repair, available repair options on products, similar to information labels for recycling options.

One of the targets of the Dutch national roadmap to a circular economy is to achieve a 50 % reduction in the use of primary raw materials by 2030. This would entail more efforts on repair as one of the key strategies for waste prevention and consumption reduction. Similar to some other Member States, the Dutch government has also reduced VAT on small repair services.

According to statistical data for Cyprus, it was found that in 2018, 3,132,000 tonnes of waste were produced, which equates to 3,576 kg per capita. This waste is categorised into construction and demolition waste (45.8%), waste from households (16.8%), from manufacturing activities (10.6%), from mining and quarrying (6.6%), from energy production (0.1%) and from other economic activities (14.5%) (Eurostat, nd).

The circular use of objects in Cyprus recorded a rate of 2.3% in 2016, which is below the EU average. However, there was an increase in the number of people employed in the circular economy, recording a rate equal to 1.99% of total employment in 2016, compared to the EU average which is equal to 1.73% (Charalampous, 2018).

In Cyprus, an online platform which encourages the repair, renovation, maintenance and repair of material goods has been created by KyklOIKOdromio, which started to be fully operational before the adoption of the new rules by the European Parliament. This is "CIRCULAR FOR ALL", an initiative of KyklOIKOdromio, which promotes, among other things, repair and repair centres. It has included in its network various categories of repair and maintenance shops, including for the repair and overhaul of clothing, footwear, electronics, furniture and others. More information is posted on the official website of "CIRCULAR FOR ALL" at the following link: Each repair centre receives a badge which it displays at the entrance to distinguish itself for participation in the Circular Economy for All initiative under the motto Repair and Mending: Circular for a Sustainable Tomorrow!

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The "kyklOIKOdromio" is founded with the aim and vision of protecting the environment and is dedicated to the memory of the distinguished teacher Elli Themistokleous Achilleos.
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