A matter of timing: system requirements for repair and their temporal dimensions
Jennifer D. Russell
Jessika Luth Richter
Summary, in English
Research into repair within the circular economy (CE) typically focuses on technical aspects of design, policy, and markets, and often assumes or implies simplified conditions for the user/owner and the product-system to explain the barriers to scaling repair activities. By integrating life cycle and temporal dimensions (time-sequence) into a broad System of Repairability framework, we demonstrate that the decision to repair-or-not-repair is not the sole responsibility of the user/owner. Other factors occurring at pre-use stages of the product’s life cycle significantly influence whether, and to what extent, repair is viable or possible, i.e., warranty duration, after-sale service provision, and access to necessities. In this analysis, we explore the various factors that affect ability, difficulty, and thus, the likelihood of repair activities being performed at each stage of the product’s life-cycle, applying a temporal perspective. We propose a framework for considering the System of Repairability, which delineates the temporal dimensions of repair as they relate to one's ‘ability to repair’, as a product progresses through different life-cycle phases (i.e., breakdown vs. repair vs. disposal), and the point(s) at which the repair is considered or attempted (i.e., year of usage). Accordingly, the System of Repairability framework clarifies the decision-points, stakeholders, and necessary conditions to facilitate a repair outcome at the individual level, and thus intervention strategies for scaling repair within CE. We conclude with a brief discussion of policy implications and a future outlook on how temporal dimensions can inform policy strategies and future research.