Today the UK’s ‘right to repair’ law comes into force. Designed to tackle “built in obsolescence”, the new law is a supposed step change towards tackling our e-waste mountain, consumerism and ultimately climate change.
However does this new law actually go far enough? Or is it just another missed opportunity?
At present it appears the new legislation means manufacturers have to provide replacement parts but there is no cap on the costs of those replacement parts or indeed the call out charge for a trained engineer to come out and fit them, if required. Reading through the comments attached to a BBC article, there is a clear desire from consumers to ‘do their bit’ but this law is met with scepticism because fundamentally it still works out cheaper and more convenient to just go out and buy a new product.
Back in 2019 when Hillside’s Director Chris attempted to repair his lawnmower, he was thwarted by a poor design and the inability to get hold of the replacement parts. This resulted in another product being thrown in to landfill unnecessarily.
If this ‘right to repair’ mindset has any chance of working out, it needs to be considered at the design stage of any product before being spread to manufacturers and to consumers.
Imagine if all designers had a mindset for designing not only for assembly, but also for disassembly. If they created products with repair in mind; considering the ease of disassembly, material separation for recycling and were intuitive to fix. As designers, we have a responsibility to be mindful of the end of use of the products we design.
Visualise having the ability to easily fix your expensive product yourself, perhaps you’ll even get enjoyment from it or learn something new.
So in conclusion, this new ‘right to repair’ law is addressing this problem to a small extent, but in reality it's merely scratching the surface. The law needs to go further and be fundamental to every aspect of a product's development in order for it to truly make a difference.
Here at Hillside Product Design, we consider all these elements throughout the product development process. If you have an idea you want to develop, we can assist with the above issues and together we can create great products that literally do not cost the earth. Because after all, is it really right that so much is thrown away?
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