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When Austrians get electronics fixed, their government foots half of the bill

Hairdryer on the fritz or phone screen in smithereens? Austrian residents now only pay half of the costs for getting electronic devices repaired. Reparaturbonus is a new scheme introduced by the Ministry of Climate Action and Energy. It subsidizes repair costs for everything from tea kettles to washing machines and laptops to e-bikes — half of the total expenses, up to EUR 200 per device. The Reparaturbonus can also be used for cost estimates, up to EUR 30.

People can request a voucher online and redeem it with a participating repair service provider, who then claims 50% of the total costs directly from the government. To avoid stockpiling, vouchers are valid for three weeks after they're issued. As soon as someone redeems their first voucher, they can request another.

Austria's national program builds on a similar one launched in Vienna in 2020. The city's Reparaturbon was valid for any type of repair, from appliances and bicycles to shoes and furniture, and during three campaign periods it paid for half of over 35,000 repairs, saving an estimated 849 metric tons of CO2.

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Programs like Reparaturbon and Reparaturbonus don't just decrease the number of appliances that enter waste streams, they also lower the environmental costs associated with production and transportation. What's critical is placing the administrative burden of claiming reimbursement not on individuals but on service providers, who can process a batch of vouchers in one go.

While ever-lower prices for devices have created a culture of toss-and-replace, financial nudges can reaccustom consumers to holding on to their possessions as long as possible. Governments in other countries: time to follow suit?

Related: PIVR uses video calls to help consumers repair their own appliances