Research on consumer electronics repair commissioned by NWO

Smartphone met logo van onderzoek naar consumentenelektronica

Two weeks ago, the research proposal Tackling Fixophobia: Improving repair practices for consumer electronics was granted by the NWO (the Dutch Research Council). Researchers Madeleine Merkx, Johan Vannerom and Martijn Schippers of Erasmus School of Law are part of the consortium that will conduct this research on consumer electronics repair.

People increasingly use consumer electronics, such as smartphones, televisions, and other household appliances. While these electronic devices offer important benefits, the current linear approach to consumer electronics also leads to significant use of natural resources, CO2 emissions, health problems and waste (e-waste). Unfortunately, the current recycling approach is insufficient to address these problems. In contrast, repair is seen as a promising strategy to solve these problems and prevent premature obsolescence or destruction of devices. 

The research focuses on increasing trust and acceptance of repair practices among all stakeholders in the consumer electronics value chain, including consumers and the government. The researchers aim to achieve this by developing, testing and combining new marketing and service strategies, technology-enabled product designs, circular business models, legal (including contractual guarantees and risk allocation) and fiscal solutions. Together, this will ultimately lead to extending the lifespan of consumer electronics. 

Joining of Erasmus School of Law 

In November 2022, Erasmus School of Law joined the study after Madeleine Merkx, Professor of Indirect Taxes, participated in an NWO matchmaking meeting. Merkx has also been appointed as the chair of one of the working packages. The project will start in August/September 2024.  

The researchers look ahead to the research: "With this research, we can make an important contribution to the important societal issue of a circular economy from a legal and tax perspective. We look forward to working with researchers and consortium partners from various areas of research." 

Fabian Amtenbrink, Vice Dean of Research at Erasmus School of Law, responds to the research: "The close collaboration between various disciplines and stakeholders in this research presents a unique opportunity to develop innovative solutions for societal challenges. This research on repair practices for consumer electronics is significant for policymakers aiming for a sustainable and circular economy." 

Unique consortium 

The consortium is a partnership of Erasmus University Rotterdam, with Madeleine Merkx, Johan Vannerom and Martijn Schippers collaborating with TU Delft, the University of Wageningen and the University of Amsterdam. The consortium also collaborates with ATAG, Bang & Olufsen, Fairphone, Philips Consumer Lifestyle, APPLiA Nederland, Techniek Nederland, het Versnellingshuis NL, Circular!, KPN, Accenture, Partners for Innovation, Stichting Repair CafĂ© International, iFixit USA, Consumentenbond, de Koninklijke NVRD, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, Rijkswaterstaat, the Dutch Consumer & Market Authority and Het Groene Brein.  

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