With the cost of living set to dramatically increase in the UK, and the ever-more-real risk of environmental catastrophe looming, it’s time we started to think about changing our relationship with used electronics.
We have become conditioned to upgrade and replace our household appliances and devices instead of trying to fix them, but there are limited systems in place to enable recycling so most of our old electronics become potentially harmful waste.
According to the UN Environment Programme, we produce 50 million tons of electronic waste globally every year, and only 20% of this is recycled. Most of this waste ends up in the global south, and it poses a real threat to people and the planet. E-waste that ends up in landfill contaminates soil and groundwater, endangering food supply systems and water sources.
Fixing Factories might provide a solution. Two new facilities in Camden and Brent are due to open this year, and their volunteer workforce will repair broken electronics on a pay-what-you-like basis. They will also offer training to help people repair their own items.
The Camden Fixing Factory on Camden High Street will focus on small household devices like toasters, hand-held electronics, kettles and hoovers. This should provide a real benefit for low-income households stuck in the expensive cycle of replacement of low-cost, low-quality items.
The Brent facility will be a laptop Fixing Factory inside the Abbey Road recycling centre. Volunteer and professional repairers will repurpose computers for local school children, and provide training and work experience pathways for young people.