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Free-to-use “Repair Café Carbon Calculator” launched by Farnham Repair Café through a collaboration with the University for the Creative Arts

April 22nd 2020, Farnham, Surrey, UK. Farnham Repair Café [FRC] today launches its in-house designed Repair Café Carbon Calculator, a free and easy-to-use online platform aimed at repair cafés – and other repair organisations – in the UK and internationally.

Available in two versions, Quick and Standard, the calculator is believed to be the first online tool that reports CO2 emission savings resulting from product repairs.

Quick – https://frc.cfsd.org.uk/index.php/rc-carbon-calculator-quick – calculates emission savings by using weight or number of repairs across all product types. Standard – https://frc.cfsd.org.uk/index.php/rc-carbon-calculator-standard – can be used by repair cafés that keep individual product repair records and group their successful repairs, by weight or number into categories e.g. bicycles, computing, electricals, mechanicals, clothing, jewellery etc – thereby giving a more precise estimate of carbon emissions and landfill savings.

“Many repair cafés have traditionally used simple paper-based ‘measure by weight’ methods”, says Professor Martin Charter, Director, The Centre for Sustainable Design [CfSD], University for the Creative Arts (UCA), and Chair of the Board of Trustees of FRC. “Our carbon calculator enables users to quickly estimate emission savings by weight or even just the number of successful repairs alone, or in greater detail by product repair category.”

Professor Martin Charter

Professor Charter

The Standard version can also show where repair cafés are having the most success in carbon emission savings, by product type – not just by weight. “Repair is particularly beneficial in electrical products such as smartphones, tablets and computers, because they contain a very high level of embedded carbon emissions due to the global supply chains,” adds Professor Charter.

Collaboration

The Repair Café Carbon Calculator is the result of three months-long collaboration between FRC trustee Steve Privett and Professor Charter. Funding came from UCA, following an award from the Strategic Priorities Fund from Research England.

At the heart of the calculator is a methodology based on data and information from FRC – and other repair cafés in the UK – that was used by Privett in his dissertation on “Potential impact of UK Repair Cafés on the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.” The dissertation was completed for his master’s degree in sustainable development.

Privett comments, “The research indicates that the majority of people whose products are repaired at the UK’s repair cafés continue to use them instead of buying newly manufactured replacements. This reduction in product consumption helps to preserve finite resources and lower carbon emissions and is particularly effective when products with a short usable life cycle, of which there are many, are given a new lease of life through repair.

“We hope the calculator will help to further inform and motivate communities towards a culture of repair rather than replace.”

Farnham Repair Cafe

Farnham Repair Cafe

The calculator takes a number of variables into consideration in its calculations. Included are average transport emissions to and from the repair café, spare parts use, rebound consumption and savings made by reducing the total sum of greenhouses gases that would have been released by manufacturing new products if the products had not been repaired by a repair café.

Research on impacts

Says Professor Charter, “Very little hard data about repair cafés’ potential ability to mitigate CO2 emissions has been published to date. Our calculator is the first tool to give repair cafés the opportunity to change that, by using more accurate evidence-based estimations of CO2 savings from product repairs.

“Making our calculator free-to-use by repair cafes and other repair organisations worldwide will, we anticipate, help policy makers, manufacturers, repairers and customers make the connection between the circular economy and climate change.

“Historically, broader environmental benefits of repair cafés have been highlighted in the media and social media. The calculator enables more specific evidencebased  estimates of CO2 emissions, showing the real impact that repair cafes can make.

“Social and community are also an important aspect of repair cafés. We are seeing increased community interest and, when covid-19 lockdown and social distancing are lifted, repair cafés can expect to see a further strengthening of their relationship with their local communities.”

More about the calculator: https://frc.cfsd.org.uk/index.php/about/

FRC is open on every second Saturday of the month between 10am – 12.30pm and offers advice and repairs on all kinds of products, from vacuum cleaners, headphones and lights, to hats, jackets, pushchairs and bicycles.  Address: FRC, The Spire Church, South Street, Farnham, GU9 7QU.

Founded in 2015, FRC, a UK-registered repair café charity, is a collaborative project between UCA, CfSD at UCA, Farnham Town Council and The Spire Church in Farnham UK. It is part of the global Repair Café movement of nearly 2100, led by The Repair Café International Foundation – founded in the Netherlands in 2011; the number of repair cafés in the UK has doubled over the last year to more than 125.

Says Professor Charter, “Our repairers are highly skilled and do a brilliant job. To date we have organised 58 sessions and had 3,000 visitors to Farnham Repair Café since launch. There have been almost 1300 repairs at a 65 percent repair rate with over 3.7 tonnes being diverted from landfill, and we have reduced CO2 by 34.5 tonnes, and seen over £91,000 saved by repairing instead of buying new.”

More about FRC https://frc.cfsd.org.uk

For more information please contact Martin Charter mcharter@uca.ac.uk

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