Repair vs. Replace: The move towards sustainability

Recent research from Aviva has found that, in a survey of 2,000 UK adults, 69% stated that they would rather fix broken or damaged items instead of replacing or buying a newer version. In addition, 57% would be interested in having damaged items repaired instead of replaced if it would save money and ease the cost-of-living pressures.

Research from the insurer also revealed that whilst the increase in the cost of living is leading people to change their buying and repairing habits, 26% of adults claimed that they were choosing to transition to more sustainable practices. 43% of individuals were choosing to recycle or up-cycle their existing belongings, while 40% of homeowners were opting to purchase pre-owned items instead of new ones.  

Items in the home can be affected by fire, flood, impact, or theft. Smaller items such as electronic devices and jewellery are more commonly repaired as they are more likely to hold sentimental value, but larger items such as burnt kitchen work surfaces, faulty appliances, or cracked bathroom sinks, are more likely to be fully replaced, whether or not there was only superficial damage. As consumer ‘appetite’ changes, this practice is becoming more of a last resort option, only choosing to replace the item if it is completely beyond repair.

The decision to repair instead of replace has multiple benefits for the environment as well as on the consumer journey. This can include:

  • Producing less waste and CO2 emissions by reducing the number of items ending up in landfills,
  • Reducing the consumption of finite resources, such as fossil fuels and precious metals,
  • Reduction in the extended periods required for new replacements to be delivered,
  • Lower costs for building materials and labour for items to be made or installed,
  • Less disruption for the consumer, particularly if the item can be fixed on the first visit,

Sustainability is a crucial factor to consider not just for household items but also for motor vehicles. The UK has around 40.8 million licensed vehicles, and when parts like wing mirrors and headlights get damaged, they are often replaced with new components, with the broken ones eventually thrown into landfills. Unfortunately, people who want to opt for sustainable repairs for their cars have to bear the high cost of spare parts, which has increased in recent years due to supply chain disruption.

With the growing awareness of environmental issues, it is crucial for insurers to offer sustainable options for repairing items in policies. By taking steps towards greener initiatives, insurers can meet the needs and preferences of their consumers.

About the author

Jessica joined RWA in 2018, having graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Film Studies. Her role as a content designer involves developing new and engaging e-learning modules as well as assisting in the creation of articles for Insight. 

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