Illustration man repairing a machine

The future of repairability

Because repairability is the future of humanity!  Okay, maybe we're exaggerating a bit, but not that much, you'll see.

The fate of our consumer goods is an integral part of the equation to be solved to build a sustainable world. More precisely, it is high time to relearn a practice that is as noble as it is useful, and that we had somewhat forgotten: the art of repairing our friends the objects.

It is no longer a scoop, the systemic ecological crisis that we are experiencing forces us to review our lifestyles and consumption patterns. On a planet that never stops exceeding its limits (this is the principle of planetary limits), it is indeed time to save resources and to stop the great waste... In this context, a notion is bound to become central in our material and daily life: reparability.

The joyful comeback of repair

This practice, as you will have understood, is not really a contemporary invention... It is rather the comeback of what was, a few decades ago, a question of pure common sense: when you break something, hey well, you fix it! An obvious fact that our modern societies have forgotten, in favor of new and ugly reflexes: broken object = thrown away object and bought new. A logic that has become untenable today, and which opens the way to a return to the good old pragmatism of the past, and to the care given to objects. As for the definition, the notion of reparability is not very mysterious. A repairable object is an object whose life span can be extended by replacing or repairing one or more parts.

It is opposed to another notion, much commented and pointed out for some time: programmed obsolescence, which describes a way of conceiving products with a limited lifespan, forcing consumers to buy them again regularly.

With reparability, on the other hand, we are following a virtuous and sober logic, that of the circular economy. Or how to get out of the linear pattern of produce > consume > throw away to come back to dynamics that are economical in resources and raw materials: produce > use > repair (or recycle) > reuse.

Illusration kids making wood pieces
Illusration kids making wood pieces

Repairing? Child's play!

Okay, not always, but often, with a few explanations, you can do it much better. It's a good thing we have tutorials for that.

Repairability: a win-win system

To (re)start repairing the objects that populate our daily lives has literally only advantages.

Here are the main ones... - for the consumer, repairing obviously allows to save money. Instead of buying a new product, he reinvests a lesser sum to obtain, in fine, an identical service (the use of the product).

Simple and efficient

- for the environment, the benefit is radical. A repaired object is one less object to produce. And less waste to process. This means less electricity, water, fuel and raw materials are saved... This radically reduces the ecological footprint.

- for the producer, reparability also has its virtues. In addition to reducing his own ecological footprint, it allows him to avoid avoid avoidable costs, such as those generated by the replacement of broken products. It is more economically relevant to replace the defective zip of a bag than the whole bag.

- we can add, for the community, that repair practices bring out and/or reinforce social links. Fablabs, repair cafés, in-store repair workshops, ... dedicated places are multiplying in France, offering so many opportunities to meet, share know-how and collaborative solutions.

- for the economy, finally, reparability allows the creation of local channels and non relocatable jobs. Because repairing your bike or the zipper of your bag is easier on the corner of your street than on the other side of the world...

Illustration man in front of electronical tools
Illustration man in front of electronical tools


DECATHLON has written the reparability objective in black and white in its bylaws. Numerical commitments have also been made. First step? That 30% of products be repairable by 2026. And that 100% of these repairable products be effectively repaired when necessary.

“The rule is that a product is eco-design repairable if at least 80% of the identified breaks and failures for that product have a repair solution.”

"The attention paid to reparability is not new at DECATHLON," says Julie Soulignac, sustainable development project manager for reparability. Some pioneering sports have been working on these issues for a long time, such as the Itiwit brand for paddle sports, stand-up paddle and kayak. Similarly, the development of eco-design has boosted this new requirement. Repairability is indeed one of the criteria of ecodesign. The rule is that a product is eco-designed as repairable if at least 80% of the breaks and failures identified for this product have a repair solution.

It remains to generalize the approach. To do this, DECATHLON was inspired by the index developed by ADEME (the Agency for the Environment and Energy Management in France) and created its own internal reference system. "We have taken the first four criteria (dismantlability, availability of parts, price, documentation) to build an evaluation system, which we have been testing for the past two years on our products." It is, as one can imagine, a long process.

"The aim is to gradually systematize this new evaluation method, and then to draw up what we call the 'Decathlon Conception Rules' (DCR), the rules that govern the design of all our products. In the long term, we hope to generalize the good design practices to make our products as easily repairable as possible. It's a big job of implementation, which necessarily takes a little time!
To achieve this, the job of "repairability leader" is being developed. Their missions? Analyze the offer, organize the availability of spare parts, support the creation of repair tutorials for
DECATHLON's support site, and putting the work of the various teams involved to music.

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