New project wants to change our ‘Repair Perspective’

OCU, Altroconsumo and DECOProteste have joined the Città Metropolitana di Bologna ‘REPper’ project consortium to develop solutions for a circular, repair based economy

Euroconsumers’ members in Spain, Italy and Portugal are working together to bring the repair economy to life for SMEs, policy makers and consumers.

OCU, Altroconsumo and DECOProteste have joined the Città Metropolitana di Bologna ‘REPper’ project  consortium co-funded by Interreg Euro-Med and the European Union.

The project aims to transform SMEs, consumers and policy makers’ perspectives on repair and circular economy approaches with practical support and joint motivation. The first thing it will do is show how the repair economy is about more than just providing one-off product fixes – it is a core element of circular business models.     

Circular, repair-based economies are the only way

Resource scarcity, climate change and global warming are making the adoption of more sustainable practices increasingly urgent. Repair and reuse-based circular economies can contribute by extending the life cycle of products for as long as possible, cutting down on waste and on demand for new goods.

In a circular economy, once product life is ended systems are in place to carry on making use of its materials through remanufacturing. Anything to prevent a product and its material being thrown away once it has served its consumer use.

What opportunity will REPper aim to unlock?

Circular economy strategies could double the amount of materials that are kept in the economy from 8.6% of the 100 billion tonnes of resources used by the world each year to 17%. This would keep materials flowing through the system, instead of just consigning them to landfill. 

Circular economies give businesses an opportunity to reduce costs, comply with sustainability and eco-regulations and meet consumers’ expectations. In turn, they make it much easier for consumers to do the thing they want to do: lessen the environmental impact of what they buy.

What REPper will do

Our members have built up solid practical knowledge of how to make circular, repair-based economies work for consumers gained through previous innovative projects like SHAREPAIR, CircThread and PROMPT

They will bring this know-how to REPper to tackle some of the embedded challenges that make the move from a disposable, high waste economy to a circular, minimal waste economy so hard. Three main challenges have been identified, here is how they will be overcome:

  • 1. Rethinking business as usual: supporting SMEs to rethink and redesign products, processes and target markets from the ground up so they can be a successful and profitable part of a vibrant repair-based circular economy. REPper will pilot a dedicated support service for SMEs and start ups making the move to circular models. Working across different countries in the Euro-Med area, they will tailor shared knowledge and solutions to specific local and national needs.
  • 2. Reskilling the workforce: the circular economy needs new roles that don’t fit into traditional occupational categories. Different manual, practical and technical skills and knowledge about new materials or new design processes will be critical. So too will things like critical thinking and creative skills. The REPper Factory framework will develop portfolios of skills and competencies. This will form the basis of a new syllabus that incorporates repair and circular economy approaches into local vocational training curricula. More immediate capacity will come through a ‘training first-aid it’ which will train the trainers to go out and boost the emerging repair economy with skills and advice. The Factory will also share case studies, ideas, technical expertise and best practice for any SME starting out on the circular journey.
  • 3. Changing mindsets and behaviour: rules like the new right to repair and eco-design specifications can shift the direction of the supply side, but to go full circle consumer demand is essential. Building and maintaining this demand means developing a culture that expects durable products, and repair and reuse to be the main option for products that break or fail. The project will use the ‘nudge theory’ approach, rooted in social interactions to introduce and motivate consumers to adopt new perspectives on repair through things like repair cafes, restart parties and school-based repair activities.  The same approach will be used for decision-makers to maintain their commitment through participating in roundtables, encouraging Green Public Procurement and bringing together different leaders and communities through joint commitments.

REPper: getting over the hurdles to circular solutions

The opportunities and advantages of shifting from linear economy to a circular one are clear, but are notoriously difficult to embed. Our members in the REPper project are applying years of learning about what business, consumers and markets need to make the shift to a sustainable, repair-based, circular economy successful to this challenge. 

REPper is helping businesses and consumers maximise the opportunities of the upcoming EU Directive on the Right to repair which will come into force in 2026. It contains common rules promoting the repair of goods, establishing an obligation to repair within and beyond the legal guarantee period, information on that obligation to repair and an online platform for goods refurbishment.  

Amongst the outputs will be new curricula, skills mapping and case studies and results of nudge campaigns to change mindsets. All of these will be shared across the countries involved and will be a valuable source in the toolkit of any country wanting to accelerate the transition to a circular, repair-based economy.