Why does it cost more to repair appliances than to buy new?

A Wastebusters volunteer at the recent October repair workshops.

Supplied/Stuff

A Wastebusters volunteer at the recent October repair workshops.

Gina Dempster, of repair company Wastebusters, sees a lot of things that really should be able to be repaired, but cannot.

She recently spoke to a woman at repair workshop who brought in her new but faulty heater and was upset it had to be binned.

“The circuit board had failed in a short time and the experienced electricians could not mend it, the item went on the scrap heap,” Dempster said.

“We had two electricians take apart a coffee machine, they got to the cause of the problem and then found out the replacement part cost more than the item was to buy new, so that went in the bin too.”

READ MORE:
* Samsung ordered to pay customer $6000 compensation for rusty fridge
* Why the right-to-repair movement is a big headache for Big Tech
* Why you should care about the right to repair
* This Kmart blender is only $29 but it is ‘built to fail’, according to Consumer NZ

Dempster said people were surprised when they found appliances could not be fixed, but some had grown used ot it.

But she said the carbon emissions to make things, transport them and then dump them were contributing to climate change.

Consumer NZ and waste management organisation WasteMinz are calling for a ban on products that cannot be repaired.

They want the overhaul of the Waste Minimisation Act now under way to include repairability clauses.

Mid-October environment minister David Parker​ released the consultation paper for the update of the New Zealand Waste Strategy, and it included discussion about the “right to repair”.

During a speech to the Environmental Defence Society in August, Parker said he was frustrated at being unable to have his fridge repaired. He said this matter increased his interest in the right to repair movement.

STUFF

Christchurch City Council has taken away 840 bins from parks and is installing 81 “smart” bins instead.

WasteMinz spokeswoman Sarah Pritchett​ said Government should legislate to reduce repairable waste.

She said New Zealand’s legislation should match new European legislation where the law requires accessible, cheap and easier appliance repairs.

She said if the Government did not ban non-repairable appliances, New Zealand, along with other Pacific countries, would become the junkyard for non-recyclable and non-repairable goods.

Sarah Pritchett says we need to keep up with Europe on legislation to ensure appliances can be readily repaired.

Supplied/Stuff

Sarah Pritchett says we need to keep up with Europe on legislation to ensure appliances can be readily repaired.

“Cheap imported appliances are made for obsolescence, are made with cheap labour and cost more to repair than keep so are being chucked into landfill.”

As part of its Built to Last Campaign, Consumer NZ want amendments to the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA).

It said a loophole in the Act allowed manufacturers to get out of responsibility for the repairability of products.

The CGA puts the onus on manufacturers to ensure spare parts and repair services are available for a reasonable time after a product is sold. But Consumer NZ says if a consumer is told repairs and spare parts are not available, the guarantee doesn’t apply.

Consumer has asked electric tool manufacturer Ryobi​ why it replaces electronic tools rather than fixes them but has had no answer. Ryobi products come with a warranty but Ryobi says its items cannot be repaired by the company.

Consumer NZ is not happy with some of the fine print from Ryobi.

Supplied/Stuff

Consumer NZ is not happy with some of the fine print from Ryobi.

“While Ryobi is fulfilling its CGA obligations, we don’t think it’s good enough,” head of testing Dr Paul Smith said.

“Along with new right to repair legislation, we think the loophole in section 42 of the Act should be brought up to date so that manufacturers can’t opt out of offering repairs.”

The final waste strategy is expected to be presented to Cabinet early next year with a bill ready for introduction to Parliament later in the year.

Consultation on the strategy closes on November 26.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said Consumer NZ and waste management organisation WasteMinz are calling for a ban on products that cannot be replaced. CORRECTED 8/11 9.40am