Montréal, October 18, 2022 - Équiterre revealed today the results of the first-ever Canada-wide study on the barriers and incentives to repairing household appliances and electronics.
Why is it that people don't repair things any more? Why do our appliances break down so easily and what can be done about it? To answer these questions, Équiterre launched a vast, Canada-wide study in cooperation with academic partners, the repair community and environmental specialists, including RECYC-QUÉBEC, who did an overview of the situation in Quebec.
Purchases of household appliances and electronics (HAEs) in Canada remain high. This is concerning considering the ever-increasing amounts of natural resources that it takes to manufacture these products and because of the current waste crisis.
The results of the study are compelling: repair is one obvious solution to limiting the environmental and socio-economic impacts linked to the manufacture of HAEs. However, the study reveals that fewer than 19% of Canadians have their appliances and electronics repaired when they break down.
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To take back control of our devices
"63% of appliances and electronics will experience some sort of failure in the first 3 years. This is completely ridiculous when you consider all the resources that went into producing them! It's time for change so that people can take back control of their devices. We have all the means necessary to implement concrete solutions that will ensure longer lives for our appliances and electronics… as it was several decades ago!" explains Amélie Côté, Analyst, Reduction at the source Analyst at Équiterre.
The research was based on a review of the literature, documentary research plus interviews and a survey among consumers, as well as interviews with repairers. An analysis of various legislation was also conducted.
To launch the report, a panel of experts and stakeholders from the repair sector discussed its findings today at the Maison du développement durable.
Highlights of the study
From the consumer perspective, the greatest barriers to repair are the way appliances and electronics are designed (i.e. that they cannot be repaired) and the cost to actually repair them.
The most significant barriers perceived by repairers are the access to replacement parts and the way household appliances and electronics are designed.
Federal or provincial legislation often create a number of barriers to repair.
Governments need to develop various measures, such as: introducing mechanisms that will lower repair costs for the consumer, making it easier to find specialists through a directory of repairers, and introducing a durability index to give the consumer better access to information when purchasing home appliances and electronics.
Manufacturers must prioritize eco-friendly design in their appliances to make them durable and repairable, and they need to facilitate repairs by ensuring access to parts and manuals.
The public must prioritize reuse and sustainability, become better informed, maintain their appliances and, above all, reintroduce the repair reflex into their habits.
Self-repair is an important consumer driver that must be encouraged and supported, both legally and logistically. Relearning skills and expertise will help develop a culture of maintaining and repairing HAEs and help them last longer.
About this study:
Équiterre received funding from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s Contributions Program for Non-profit Consumer and Voluntary Organizations. The views expressed in this report are not necessarily those of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada or of the Government of Canada.
Équiterre also acknowledges the contribution of RECYC-QUÉBEC in conducting interviews with Quebec repairers.
View the report