The amount of electronics that we are throwing away each year is growing at an exponential rate, and this toxic trash is hazardous to both people and the planet. What are we supposed to do when our smartphones or other gadgets stop working? According to lawmakers in the United States and Europe, there is one option that should be available instead of getting rid of them— fixing them.
Lawmakers in at least 18 states— and the European Parliament— believe that manufacturers should make it a priority that their products last longer and are easier to fix, a movement known as “Right To Repair.”
The 18 U.S. states include California, Washington, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia.
E-waste is the fastest-growing waste stream on Earth, says the Global E-Waste Monitor. In 2016, our planet generated 44.7 million metric tons of e-waste, and as more products continue to hit the market, the forecasts for future waste are projected to skyrocket. Experts say that by 2021, we are looking at 52.2 million metric tons of e-waste.
As technology advances for electronics, DIY fixes for gadgets are a huge challenge for consumers, thus causing more and more consumers and politicians to demand a change to the law.
California Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman introduced the California Right To Repair Act last March, and her bill would require manufacturers to release diagnostic and repair instructions and make equipment or service parts available to small repair shops and product owners.
“We should be working to reduce needless waste—repairing things that still have life—but companies use their power to make things harder to repair. Repair should be the easier, more affordable choice and it can be, but first, we need to fix our laws,” said Emily Rusch, executive director of CALPIRG, in a press release in support of Eggman’s bill.
Environmentalists say the “Right to Repair” legislation would not only save resources, but will also reduce carbon emissions from the manufacturing of new products.
While the act proves to be beneficial, it could, however, prove to be a considerable challenge to pass. Tech giants like Apple and Microsoft believe that users fixing their own devices could be a security risk to the user, not to mention, the fact that these companies would prefer that consumers continue to buy their new products.
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