New tool: Repair Café Carbon Calculator

Farnham Repair Café (UK) launched the free-to-use “Repair Café Carbon Calculator” – a new tool which can tell you how much carbon your Repair Café is saving.

What is the Carbon Calculator?

The Repair Café Carbon Calculator is a free and easy-to-use online platform created for Repair Cafés and other repair organizations in order to get an indication of carbon emissions prevented by their repair activities. It is believed to be the first online tool that reports CO2 emission savings resulting from product repairs.

The Carbon Calculator was launched in April 2020 as a result of a three months collaboration between researcher Steve Privett, Professor Martin Charter of Farnham Repair Café and the University for the Creative Arts (UCA).

How does the Carbon Calculator work?

The Carbon Calculator was developed by considering the total sum of embodied Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions contained within the products successfully repaired by UK Repair Cafés. This was quantified by estimating the GHG emissions that would have been created had the successfully repaired products instead been replaced by newly manufactured products.

“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”, says Martin Charter, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Design of UCA, and Chair of the Board of Trustees of Farnham Repair Café.

Furthermore, the calculator takes a number of other variables into consideration such as average transport emissions to and from the Repair Café and spare parts use etc.

Two versions: quick and standard

The Carbon Calculator is available to use in two online versions: quick and standard.

Figure 1: Example results by 50 total successful repairs

Quick Version: If you want to quickly estimate your repair emission savings all you need to do is enter either the total weight of successful repairs (kg) or the total number of items repaired successfully.

The quick version uses average emission savings for all products but also takes into account other factors which impact emissions such as the type of transportation used and how many miles people typically travel to and from the Repair Café etc.

Want to know more about the use of the quick calculator? Watch this more detailed video explanation.

 

Figure 2: Example of the standard carbon calculator results by each category

 

Standard Version: For the Standard Carbon Calculator, you need to enter the total weight of successful repairs (kg) or the total number of items repaired successfully for each of the 8 different categories described.

The second version estimates repair emissions more accurately: it uses the average product weights and embodied carbon emissions for each general product category, as can be seen in Figure 2. Repair Cafés that keep track of their data e.g. via the RepairMonitor can filter their data and enter into the carbon calculator.

Want to know more about the use of the standard calculator? Watch this more detailed video explanation.

 

Environmental impacts of Repair Cafés

It seems legitimate that Repair Cafés are good for the environment as the consumption of new products is resource and carbon intensive. However, Professor Charter explains that actually there is “very little hard data about Repair Cafés’ potential ability to mitigate CO2 emissions which has been published to date”. In the past, only broader environmental benefits have been highlighted in the media. The Carbon 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”, he says.

Steve Privett additionally comments, “the research indicates that the majority of people whose products are repaired continue to use them instead of buying newly manufactured replacements. This reduction in product consumption helps to preserve finite resources and lower carbon emissions.”

By making the Carbon Calculator free-to-use for Repair Cafés, the developers aim to help policy makers, manufacturers, repairers and customers to make the connection between the circular economy and climate change as well as motivate communities towards a culture of repair rather than replacing.

Want to know more?

Steve Privett started his research into carbon savings by Repair Cafés as a student. His first findings on the subject were published on the Repair Café website in 2019. More information about his findings can also be found in this summary.

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