Sweetened repair bills

By Christian BlockLex KlerenLaurent Sturm Switch to German for original article

In the coalition agreement, the government is considering the implementation of a repair incentive, inspired by the Austrian model. The repair bonus in the Alpine republic has proven effective, albeit as one element among many on the path to a circular economy.

The coffee machine is on strike, the washing machine drum has stopped turning, and the exercise bike is making strange noises. Should they be repaired, or is it time for a new purchase?

For just over a year and a half, this decision has been made easier for consumers in Austria. In April 2022, the Alpine republic introduced a nationwide repair voucher system. Here's how it works: private individuals residing in Austria apply for a voucher, which they redeem when paying the bill for the repair of a household or leisure appliance. Consumers then receive money back into their bank account: up to 200 euros per repair and up to 30 euros for the cost estimate.

The measure was well-received. According to the Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate Protection, approximately 840,000 vouchers were redeemed in the country, which has a population of 9 million, between 2022 and 2023. The funding totalled around 80 million euros.

"In terms of effectiveness, I think it has proved very successful, " says Markus Piringer. He is project manager for the circular economy and coordinator of the Vienna Repair Network at the environmental counselling service Die Umweltberatung (see info box). In interviews with businesses, Piringer has found: "The sales figures have increased noticeably, even doubling as a result of the repair bonus. As an instrument to trigger more repairs, it is very good. Why is that? Simply because the price is a major obstacle to more repairs. We have very high labour costs in Austria, which won't be much different in Luxembourg." If a tradesperson spends more than an hour on a faulty dishwasher, customers quickly end up with a three-figure bill.

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