Illustration man repairing a machine

The concept of reparability

Or how to encourage a longer life for our products.

The fate of our consumer goods is an integral part of the difficult equation facing most businesses. It's high time we all relearned a noble and useful practice that we'd all forgotten: the art of repairing our friends' objects.

How is the reparability index worked out at DECATHLON?

  1. 1 First, a question of common sense
  2. 2 Repairability: a win-win system
  3. 3 And at DECATHLON?

It's no longer news that the systemic ecological crisis we are currently experiencing is forcing us to review our lifestyles and consumption patterns. On a planet that is constantly overshooting its limits (this is the principle of planetary limits), the time has come to save resources and put a stop to the great waste... In this context, one concept is set to become central to our material and daily lives: reparability.

First, a question of common sense

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.

Repairability: a win-win system

There are literally nothing but advantages to (re)starting to repair the objects that populate our daily lives.

Repairing obviously saves money. Instead of buying a new product, the consumer reinvests a smaller sum to obtain, in the end, an identical service (the use of the product). Simple and effective! 

Repairing a product is also better for the environment: one repaired item means one less item to produce. And less waste to process. That's just as much electricity, water, fuel and raw materials saved... So you can significantly reduce your ecological footprint.

For manufacturers, reparability also has its virtues: as well as reducing their own environmental footprint, it allows them to avoid costs that are avoidable, such as those generated by replacing broken or faulty products. It makes more economic sense to replace the faulty zip on a bag than the whole bag.

As far as the community is concerned, we can add that repair practices help to create and/or strengthen social ties. Fablabs, repair cafés, in-store repair workshops... there are a growing number of dedicated venues in France, offering opportunities to meet up, share know-how and collaborative solutions.

Finally, for the economy, repairability means the creation of local industries and jobs that can't be relocated. After all, it's easier to repair your bike or the zip on your handbag just around the corner than on the other side of the world...

Illustration man in front of electronical tools

How is the reparability index worked out at DECATHLON?

DECATHLON has written the repairability objective in black and white into its articles of association. Commitments have also been made in figures.

In 2023, the methodology of the internal repairability index was audited by the French association HOP (Halte à l'Obsolescence Programmée = Stop Planned Obsolescence) and the firm Auxilia in order to guarantee the relevance of the method and to continue to improve it. Their approval to continue in this direction has encouraged DECATHLON to speed up the roll-out to new types of products, while improving the evaluation system.

The first step? That 30% of products should be repairable by 2026. And for 100% of these repairable products to be repaired when necessary.

Secondly, the aim is for 25% of Decathlon's sales to be covered by the repairability index by 2030 (scooters, rollerblades, third-layer clothing, etc.).

In 2023, 2.7% of Decathlon's 2023 turnover is considered repairable for more than 80% of defects (excluding bicycles, compared with 0.8% in 2022).

The rule is that a product is considered repairable if at least 80% of the breakages and failures identified on it can be repaired.

"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 considered repairable if at least 80% of the breakages and failures identified on it can be repaired.

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.

Illusration kids making wood pieces

Repairing? Child's play!

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