How do we measure the environmental impact of events?

When you add information about the items brought to your community repair event, we will automatically calculate the environmental impact of each successful fix.

This is a great way to keep track of how much CO2e and waste you’ve diverted - handy for celebrating your work with visitors, volunteers and funders! As you run more events, your group page will keep a track of your total stats too.

Where does this data come from?

To estimate the environmental benefits of repairs, we did a lot of research into the carbon footprints of common products we see at events. For every type of item you can choose when adding your data, we worked out the average weight and the average amount of CO2e produced to manufacture and transport that item - i.e. the impact of the item before it’s ever used.

:mag: You can learn how we did this research here
:bar_chart: You can find our source data here

How do we calculate your impact?

For each successful repair you record, we assume that you have extended the useful life of that item by 50%. This means we assume that item won’t be thrown away, avoiding it becoming waste and postponing the purchase of a new replacement item.

:laptop: Example
We know that an average medium-sized laptop produces around 260 kg of CO2e before it’s ever used and weighs about 1.8 kg. If you help someone repair one of these laptops at an event, we assume that you’ve extended its life by about 50% - and by doing so, you’ve prevented 1.8 kg of waste and saved the owner from buying a new replacement for a while. This equates to about 50% of the total impact of producing a new laptop: around 130 kg of CO2e.

What about miscellaneous items?

We don’t have environmental data on every type of product out there. But together, we’ve all recorded a whopping 20,000 repair attempts at community events, which gives us a pretty good idea of the kinds of items we all see most often.

To work out the rough impact of repairing something that doesn’t fit one of our product categories, we used data about all the products that do fit to produce a fixed CO2e to weight ratio for powered devices and a separate ratio for unpowered items.

This is why we ask you to record the weight of miscellaneous (‘misc’) items. Once we have the weight, we apply this CO2e to weight ratio to estimate the item’s carbon impact. While not perfect, this method is usually enough to produce a reasonably fair estimate.


What is 'CO2e'?

CO2e means ‘carbon dioxide equivalent’. It’s a unit of measurement used to describe the global warming potential of greenhouse gasses by comparing them to the warming impact of carbon dioxide over a certain period (usually 100 years).

Carbon dioxide isn’t the only gas to contribute to global heating. Others include methane, nitrous oxide and so on. Making the products we use every day can release multiple types of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. So to work out the overall impact on global heating, we need to include these other gasses too.

CO2e isn’t a perfect metric. The relative impact of different gasses changes significantly depending on the time frame used, for example. But it’s widely-used, which makes it easier to compare our data with other sources of emissions.

You can learn more here.

How accurate are these impact stats?

These stats are estimates to give you an approximate idea of the impact you’re making. They are not 100% accurate and are primarily designed to highlight the link between producing/buying new products and greenhouse gas emissions.

The source data we use was produced through industry-standard lifecycle assessment methodology. This is currently the gold-standard for measuring the environmental impact of consumer products. However, this methodology has a number of limitations and relies on a large number of assumptions and generalisations.

Want to learn more? We ran a webinar with a materials scientist where we explored this topic in more depth. Watch the recording here