Griffith University, Ewaste Watch Institute, Clean Up Australia and the Australian Repair Network are calling for essential reforms that will incentivise and support the repair of products, machines and equipment at the 2023 Australian Repair Summit to be held at the National Library in Canberra on August 11.
ARC Future Fellow and Law Futures member at Griffith University, Professor Leanne Wiseman, said: “It is disappointing to see the Australian Government lose focus on the important role repair can play in reducing our waste as we transition to a circular economy.”
Professor Wiseman has recently returned from a research trip across Europe, where ‘right to repair’ policies and laws are being developed and implemented, highlighting the important role durability, repair and reuse contribute to strong environmental policy.
“Many countries and jurisdictions have already introduced laws encouraging, incentivising and enshrining the right to repair the things we own,” she said.
“With all of the hard work done by the Productivity Commission and the ACCC in 2021, Australia was in a strong position to be one of the leaders in the international Right to Repair movement.”
Ewaste Watch Institute co-founder and Adjunct Professor at the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures, John Gertsakis said: “Australia is strongly placed to elevate the role of repair when it comes to national policies and programs, especially whilst many other countries are working to recognise product durability and repairability as the first responders in the war on waste and over-consumption.”
Pip Kiernan, Chair of Clean Up Australia said as Australia grapples with its waste challenges, it’s vital that we remove barriers to repairing our products, machines and equipment.
“We must reduce our waste; we can’t just recycle it,” she said.
Director of the Boomerang Alliance and Total Environment Centre Jeff Angel said Australia needs to reduce its waste and plastic footprint and reuse and repair are essential to this task.
“Governments need to make it easier for people to do this,” he said.
“Yes, it will involve changes to consumer behaviour, marketing and business practices but the circular economy benefits are significant generating environmental and resource savings and new businesses and jobs.”
In October 2022, Australia’s Environment and Water Minister, The Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP, alongside state and territory Environment Ministers, issued a joint commitment calling for Australia to recognise the scale and urgency of environmental challenges and “design out waste and pollution, keep materials in use and foster markets to achieve a circular economy by 2030.”
Mr Gertsakis and Ms Kiernan believe Australian consumers are ready for a repairability ‘star rating’ reflective of France’s Repairability Index.
“Informative product labelling at the time of purchase can empower consumers whilst also driving improved design for repairability outcomes by brands and manufacturers,” Mr Gertsakis said.
The Productivity Commission presented a comprehensive report two years ago following extensive public input, emphasizing the importance of giving independent repairers ‘greater access to repair supplies, fostering competition for repair services, without compromising safety or discouraging innovation.’
The Australian Government has yet to respond to any of the of the recommendations in the Productivity Commission’s report.
In July 2021, Australia passed its initial right to repair laws in the Australian automotive aftermarket, focused on a data-sharing scheme for independent mechanics but limited to one sector only.
“Keeping our products in use for longer is foremost in everyone’s minds,” Professor Wiseman said.
“Australians want and expect their new products to be more durable and able to be repaired anywhere without barriers, not just at manufacturers.”
The 2023 Australian Repair Summit will bring together industry experts, environmental and sustainability advocates, policymakers, and concerned citizens to address the urgent need for stronger policies around repair which will assist in the war on waste and enabling a circular economy.
The free event is open to all in attendance at the National Library in Canberra or online on August 11.