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Farnham Repair Cafe and UCA launch free-to-use Carbon Calculator

A free-to-use “Repair Café Carbon Calculator” launched by Farnham Repair Cafe through a collaboration with the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) is now available to use online.

Farnham Repair Café (FRC) has designed a Carbon Calculator, a free and easy-to-use online platform aimed at repair cafes - 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.

The Quick version calculates emission savings by using weight or number of repairs across all product types. The Standard version 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,” said Professor Martin Charter, Director of The Centre for Sustainable Design (CfSD) at 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.

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

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,” added Professor Charter.

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.

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

The calculator will enable more specific evidence-based estimates of CO2 emissions, showing the real impact that repair cafes can make.

“Social and community are also an important aspect of repair cafés, said Professor Charter. “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.” 

Read more about the calculator by visiting the CfSD website.