Are the French ready to abandon their habits of subcontracting household repairs to engage in self-repair? In a recent report, theEcological Transition Agency (new name of the Environment and Energy Management Agency – Ademe) does not count less than 6 million annual interventions under and without warranty, of which a third for large household appliances. That is 16,000 daily breakdowns, mainly affecting washing machines and dishwashers. If, above 80 euros, repair can be considered by brands and manufacturers, below, it is the exchange that takes precedence for devices under warranty.
Lack of dedicated budget
In 2019, 54 million household appliances were sold in France, with growth of 4.7% for small household appliances, including a significant portion of renewal where self-repair could have found its place. “The French are becoming aware of a consumerist approach to the end and realize that it is not necessary to change all their devices and to buy them systematically”, observes Geoffroy Malaterre, founder of Spareka, a young company based in Montreuil (Seine-Saint-Denis), which offers solutions via tutorials and didactic support. However, the French still suffer from a lack of budget dedicated to repairs. And, beyond a certain amount, around 150 euros, they prefer redemption to repair.
The law of 1 January 2021 establishing a repairability index will no doubt help. From that date, brands will have to show a rating out of 10 for the ability of their devices to be repairable rather than replaceable. A new stage in promoting the circular economy and also, by extension, action against planned obsolescence. “When you buy a car, the fact that it breaks down one day is integrated, points out Geoffroy Maleterre. For a household appliance, the breakdown is like a calamity. Sentiment maintained by the manufacturers, who explain that repairing can be dangerous for the consumer, which is false. 92% of breakdowns are repairable. “
Among these followers of repair, an activity that recorded a jump during the first confinement before returning to its cruising speed at the time of deconfinement, all the profiles are listed. If women represent 50% of operators, retirees, benefiting from time capital, carve out the lion’s share. Paradoxically, the higher socio-professional categories, inclined to embrace eco-friendly practices, are in the minority, their purchasing power allowing them to buy back faulty equipment.
Faithful to its love for the Newspeak, the government unsheathed the concept of “repar’actors” and set up an information and exchange platform called Longuevieauxobjets.gouv.fr. Responsible citizens are invited to “borrow, rent, buy second-hand rather than systematically buy new, and repair, give (…) rather than throw away”.
Hoping that the present and future economic crisis does not push the public authorities to encourage consumption again in the name of the necessary economic recovery. If, during the last five years, the sale of refurbished products has experienced a significant jump, the fight in favor of the circular economy and the fight against planned obsolescence rest, for the moment, only on the goodwill of manufacturers. This even though one in two French people say they are able to buy a refurbished device rather than chasing the latest expensive model.