Building a spare parts marketplace?

Is anybody aware of crowdsourcing Social LCA initiatives?

I’ve also been thinking if there is platform like (for Lego) but for devices? The idea would be: you can have a library of your devices with automatically generated catelogue of components. And any devices you don’t need anymore, you can offer on the market. There you could also offer parts of broken devices.

@Janet @james @Jessika_Richter Is there scope for something like this through The Restart Project?

[Moderator note: This topic was split off from: Life Cycle Analysis for repair v refurbish v recycling - #5 by Janna ]

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I haven’t come across any crowdsourced social LCA stuff so far. Think I’ve only seen these being done by universities and occasionally by consultancy firms. But it would be great to hear if you find any!

Interesting concept! Again, I’m not aware of any platform that can do this at the moment. Although I think there are some tools that focus on specific kinds of devices or brands (such as

The level of complexity around building and maintaining such a tool makes my head spin a little bit :sweat_smile: - I don’t think we’d have the resources to consider something like this at Restart (especially as it’s already quite a lot of work to maintain this site). That said, we do have an #repair-stories:offers-requests section here on the forum.

In terms of offering parts of broken devices, we usually signpost people to sites like Freegle, Freecycle or Ebay.


Thank you James, I think we would need some kind of device repair matchmaking service. But the cateloging of device components would be really hard, unless there was a way to gather the data from a database. If the data collection could be crowdsourced, then it might help to distribute the work. This might also be an interesting Ai challenge. There are some Citizen Science organisations that might be interested, but how to outline the project?

The other challenge is coworking with non-English speaking communities and active participation. Restarters has high levels of engagement and participation, but the language is English. As are Freegle and Freecycle. So there would need to be translation tools as in Facebook. And the language is not enough, we need something that is culturally and locally responsive too.

Bringing together social interaction, technology and repair into a platform is huge task, but maybe we just need some place to start…and what could that be? Begin to take an inventory of our devices? Taking out the devices hiding in our drawers and cateloging the components? Then share findings with repairers on various platforms?

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It’s a cool concept for sure. Being able to automatically list all the components of any device would be really useful for a lot of people and really help with repair.

But I agree it would be incredibly difficult. Just thinking about the sheer number of devices out there and how frequently new ones are produced, I’m not sure that even crowdsourcing would be enough to build and maintain this kind of tool. Looking only at smartphones, there were already over 24,000 models of Android phone in active use from nearly 1,300 different companies back in 2015. So I think you’re right that it would need to make use of either AI or an existing database (if one exists).

More broadly though, I think a complementary approach is through Right to Repair legislation. One of our key demands is for companies to make spare parts available to consumers at an affordable price. Ideally, this would cover the majority of common repair scenarios and place the burden more squarely on manufacturers to produce this kind of documentation.

Language is a really important consideration, agreed :slight_smile:
We do have automatic translation here on the forum. Just set your language in your preferences, then you’ll see a globe icon :globe_with_meridians: at the bottom of each post in a different language - click that to translate it (instructions here).

But of course, you’re right that “language is not enough, we need something that is culturally and locally responsive too”

Oh and I moved this conversation into a new topic to keep the previous one focused on the original post. Hope that’s ok :slight_smile:


No problem, James, it started to feel like another topic. Thank you for migrating the thread.

Repair Blockchain

Maybe we can look at blockchain for some ideas. I just saw this about car repair. Maybe something like this would also be useful for devices.

Component Database
Do we have any people from iFixit in Restarters? They might also have some ideas about a device database for a parts marketplace. For example, all their teardowns could be gathered into a database. Automating the input of datasheets would be handy too.

And while it might be nice to get ALL the devices. We can just start with a small but useful dataset that the community and participants can build on. It’s more important to build a comprehensive, responsive and adaptive system than a complete one with all the possible devices. We can look at what is possible now, and grow from there.

Database Generator
The other day I came across an app to scan barcodes on books, from there it generates a database filled with all the books you scan, this includes, title, author, ISBN, etc. It also downloads an image of the book cover.

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this idea could potentially be easier when digital passports for products are introduced and you have inventories of components and materials following the product. Of course, access to the data will likely be an issue for community repair organisations. We at Repair Cafe Malmö have been experimenting with cataloguing our parts inventory with partkeepr ( and sharing the information on our website ( Right now it is just standard parts as we don’t have many torn down devices that we can store. But it is an idea that could definitely work if there is an easy way to sync the data?

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I’m now working on a million-box challenge to build a bot arm with computer-vision phone app to sort screws for repairs.

We are still figuring out a name…