Farnham Repair Café’s pioneering new ‘carbon calculator’ takes the fight to throwaway culture

By Daniel Gee   |   Head of Content   |
Tuesday 26th April 2022 1:20 pm
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A PIONEERING new online tool has been launched by Farnham Repair Café – and made available to other repair cafés across the world – to help calculate the impact of their efforts to divert broken products from landfill.

Version two – or ‘V2’ – of the Farnham-based charity’s Repair Café Carbon Calculator was launched on April 12, and is available for free online at: https://frc.cfsd.org.uk/index.php/rc-carbon-calculator-standard

The upgrade comes after the first-ever ‘right to repair’ laws came into effect in the EU in March 2021, and in the UK just four months later.

Manufacturers in Europe are now legally obligated to ensure that electric and electronic goods, such as televisions and fridges, can be repaired for up to ten years after purchase.

Additionally, on March 30, 2022, the European Commission launched its Sustainable Product Initiative (SPI) to ensure products in the EU market are designed to be repairable, recyclable, durable, energy-efficient and free of hazardous chemicals.

The original version of the Repair Café Carbon Calculator was launched in 2020 and was the result of a three-month collaboration between its developer Steve Privett, a former Farnham Repair Café trustee and repairer, and currently a consultant and researcher, and café founder Professor Martin Charter.

The calculator was ground-breaking internationally, replaced guesswork and paper-based methods, and is still believed to be the only repair café carbon calculator of its kind.

But the Repair Café Carbon Calculator ‘V2’ displays information on users’ carbon savings in a more easily and clearly understood way.

Professor Charter, who is also chair of the café’s board of trustees, said: “The new version will help repair cafés and other organisations to further realise and promote the benefits of repairing a product and extending its life, compared to replacement with something new.

“Repairing is a vital way of preventing waste, reducing CO2 emissions and combating the ‘buy now, throw away later’ culture.”

Mr Privett added: “There are no changes to how the tool operates or the calculation methods used. But, inside, the software has been re-engineered to display results through graphic images – and give a more descriptive equivalence to carbon savings via an example range of ‘everyday’ activities such as driving, air travel and hot showering.

“For example, 35kg of repaired electrical items at a repair café session would save 306kg of carbon emissions, the equivalent emissions of taking 191 hot showers.”

Emphasising the new version makes it easier for organisers and users of repair cafés to understand and communicate environmental benefits to the public, he added: “For example, a repair café keeping a record of the calculator’s results could say, ‘Since opening, we have saved the equivalent carbon emissions of someone flying 235,000 miles or driving a new petrol car more than 160,000 miles’.”

Also new is a graph showing a percentage breakdown of the carbon emission savings contribution from each product repair category. This helps users quickly see how different repair categories contribute to the overall carbon emission savings, and how or where savings might be improved.

There are other features, such as a graph showing the ‘intensity of repairs’. This helps users to see if their repair café results or sessions are above or below the UK average calculated from original research data.

But users not requiring a comprehensive view of results can use the ‘quick’ option. This allows users to rapidly estimate their carbon emission savings of a repair by entering either the total weight of successful repairs or the total number of items repaired successfully.

The option takes into account other factors that impact carbon emission emissions savings, including how many products are taken by the average visitor for repair and how many miles they will have driven to and from the repair café or other repair organisation.

Farnham Repair Café is open on every second Saturday of the month between 10am and 12.30pm, at The Spire Church, South Street, Farnham. It offers advice and repairs on all kinds of products, from vacuum cleaners, headphones and lights, to hats, jackets, pushchairs and bicycles.

Founded in 2015, FRC became a UK-registered repair café charity in 2017, working in collaboration between The Centre for Sustainable Design at University of the Creative Arts, Farnham Town Council and The Spire Church in Farnham UK.

The café is part of the global Repair Café movement of 2,283 (as of March 2022), led by The Repair Café International Foundation – founded in the Netherlands in 2011. Find out more at https://frc.cfsd.org.uk

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