Vlad Turiceanu, Earth.com, November 15,2023
A federal Right to Repair Act could help the US avoid generating millions of tons of e-waste every year. By allowing consumers to repair their electronics, the Right to Repair Movement will directly contribute to sustainability efforts and reduce the amount of e-waste we produce, benefitting not only the environment but also consumers’ finances.
California Paves the Way
When your electronics break, your only viable option is to send the device to one of the repair shops licensed by the manufacturer, mainly because opening the device or purchasing spare parts and installing them at home has become nearly impossible.
All this is about to change. In October 2023, California – the most populous state in the US and the world’s fifth-largest economy – passed the landmark Right to Repair Act. This, many hope, will pave the way for other states to follow suit.
The new bill requires manufacturers to provide anyone with access to parts, documentation, and tools to repair their electronic devices. The law applies to electronic devices manufactured on and after July 1, 2021, and will take effect on July 1, 2024.
A recent consumer survey by Windows Report shows that 57% of respondents want the freedom to repair their devices at home, and 89% of consumers are concerned about discarded electronics or see it as a top priority.
The most interested in repairing their devices are laptop users (53%), followed by desktop PC users (41%). At the same time, 67% of respondents said they do not know that repairing their electronics is even a possibility. That translates directly into the same percentage of potential e-waste added to an already huge pile. The US alone generates 6.9 tonnes of e-waste annually.
The Problem of E-Waste
The problem of e-waste has become much more severe in recent years because of the ever-growing amount of electronic devices ending up in landfills.
Batteries of portable electronics contain highly toxic and harmful chemicals, and improper handling may have hazardous consequences. Nevertheless, manufacturers made it almost impossible for consumers to detach batteries from portable devices such as mobile phones, laptops, and portable consoles.
According to 83% of people polled in the aforementioned survey, there should be a legal regulation to enforce the right to repair computers.