Call for reform at 2023 Right to Repair Summit

wastesorted awards 2023

Griffith University, Ewaste Watch InstituteClean Up Australia and the Australian Repair Network are calling for 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.

Boomerang Alliance and Total Environment Centre are also backing the summit’s proposals.

Professor Leanne Wiseman, Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow and Law Futures member at Griffith University said it’s disappointing to see the Australian Government lose focus on the role repair can play in reducing waste as Australia transitions 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 role durability, repair and reuse contribute to environmental policy.

“Many countries and jurisdictions have already introduced laws encouraging, incentivising and enshrining the right to repair the things we own,” she said.

John Gertsakis, Ewaste Watch Institute co-founder and Adjunct Professor at the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures, said Australia is strongly placed to elevate the role of repair when it comes to national policies and programs, especially while many other countries are working to recognise product durability and repairability as the first responders in the war on waste and over-consumption.

As Australia grapples with its waste challenges, it’s vital barriers to repairing products, machines and equipment are removed, according to Pip Kiernan, Chair of Clean Up Australia.

“We must reduce our waste; we can’t just recycle it,” Kiernan said.

Jeff Angel, Director of the Boomerang Alliance and Total Environment Centre,  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, Tanya Plibersek, Environment and Water Minister, 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.”

Gertsakis and Kiernan believe consumers are ready for a repairability ‘star rating’.

“Informative product labelling at the time of purchase can empower consumers while also driving improved design for repairability outcomes by brands and manufacturers,” Gertsakis said.

The Productivity Commission presented a report two years ago following extensive public input, emphasising 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 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.

The 2023 Australian Repair Summit will bring together industry experts, environmental and sustainability advocates, policymakers, and citizens to address the 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.

For more information, visit: www. events.griffith.edu.au

Related stories:

Uni opens repair cafe

Building a culture of repair

 

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