When we can't fix our electronics, we have to buy new things, which is expensive and wasteful. Oregonians discard approximately 4,800 cell phones every day, and we estimate that fixing household electronics and appliances instead of buying new ones could collectively save Oregon households $544 million each year.1,2
That's why we're working to pass Right to Repair legislation in Salem that would give consumers and repair shops what they need to repair their devices.3
You buy stuff. It breaks or doesn't work right. You could throw it away and buy new stuff, but you'd rather repair it -- you don't want to be wasteful.
But then you find out you can't do it yourself; you can't even bring it to a third party repair shop.
You have to bring it back to the original company, which can charge an arm and a leg because there's no competition -- and sometimes they just won't fix it. So you decide to throw the thing away. Which means more waste going into landfills, and more cost to consumers.
That's why we need Right to Repair laws. They require companies to make the parts, tools, schematics and diagnostics needed for repair available to the public and independent repair shops on reasonable terms.
Together, we can reduce waste, cut climate pollution, and help bridge the digital divide by making it easier to fix our stuff.
OSPIRG has a piece of legislation calling for a Right To Repair electronic equipment. This is usually thought of as consumer rights or a piece of environmental legislation. However, it is more than a environmental leglsition. The bill number is HB2698 - Relating to a right to repair consumer electronic equipment; prescribing an effective date.
The official bill summary reads: "Requires original equipment manufacturer to make available to owner of originated equipment or independent repair provider on fair and reasonable terms any part, tool, documentation or other device or implement that original equipment manufacturer makes available to authorized repair provider for purpose of diagnosing, maintaining or repairing originated equipment. Provides that person who suffers ascertainable loss of money or property has right to bring action to recover damages for violation of provisions of Act. Takes effect on 91st day following adjournment sine die."
The reason we would want to support this is that electronic waste is a huge environmental problem because most, well, almost, all electronic waste is thrown away, not recycled. Embedded in all electronics, whether a cell phone, a tv, monitor, printer, lap top, desktop computer, are small amount to various Rare Earth Elements (REE). These REE are very plentiful, however, they are embedded with other minerals and metals. In order to retrieve these, a vast amount of earth must be destroyed at great expense and environmental destruction. The largest deposits are in China and a few other nations. Already this has caused conflict between the US and China when some years ago, China put in place high tariffs which naturally the US and other nations opposed. China was pressured via the WTO to remove those tariffs but the potential for higher levels of conflict are ever present. And there was another issue in Bolivar recent which had access to REE present there was the foundational issue.
It makes sense that rather than throwing all these REE intensive users away in the garage, that we start programs to recycle the equipment by facilitating the repair of them; thereby reducing the need for ever increasing amounts of new REEs Such reduction offers the opportunity to reduce potential conflict points. And of course, it also offers great environmental benefits as well as consumer benefits.
David Delk | OR UU Voices for Justice board member ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The template for Right to Repair is current law for auto repairs in Massachusetts (passed in 2012) and the National Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreed by the Auto Industry in support of independent repair in 2014. The Auto MOU has been copied by Commercial Trucks in 2015 and has proven beneficial to consumers without negative impact on manufacturers. The template is ideal because repair of computerized components within vehicles is the same as in any other platform or housing. The more we come to rely upon technology in our daily lives – the more important it is that the technology be readily restored to function easily and locally. We believe that manufacturers that help their customers enjoy the use of their investments for the long term will be rewarded with higher customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
Someone needs to be first - will it be Oregon? Maybe.
Please also note that your ability to take your car to any shop instead of a dealership shop of your car's manufacturer is a result of a Massachusetts law passed in 2012, Right to Repair your car. .
Why do we need to do this? What problem(s) does it address?
We are all familiar with the Recycle, Reduce, Reuse triangle. the first problem addressed is environmental. This from the above linked site: The end-of-life electronic products problem is huge: More than 20 million tons of end-of-life electronic products are produced every year. Americans alone generate about 3.4 million tons of end-of-life electronic products per year.
So, Repair addresses the Reuse part of this triangle. It also addresses the Reduce part because if you can repair, you don't need to pay new. then you also don't need to Recycle. In fact, currently electronic products are thrown away, not recycled. Even when they are recycled, many of the products cannot be broken apart safely into reusable parts. Those products which can be recycled. then enter a process which is unhealthy because of the exposure of the people to dangerous chemicals, chemicals which also leak into the environment.
I would also note the use of many rare earth materials which are very hard to recycle because there is so little of each material in each electronic product. These rare earth materials are largely not available in the Untied States but instead have to be imported, often from nations not very favorably inclined to like the United States. But even when they are available in the United States, they are produced with very environmentally destructive methods.
Much of this recycling work is done in third-world countries - a form of imperialism. This is the second problem that this law addresses.
Another problem addressed is the creation of jobs. Repair work can be done here in local businesses,local businesses which you could maybe even walk to, and which would not be jobs which could be off-shored.
Another problem is addressing the expense of electronic items. They are expensive. Repairing them would be much cheaper than having to buy new electronics.
I will just end this with this quote from the US PIRG website on this issue: Policies that reduce waste, increase consumer choice and save families money should be a no-brainer — and fortunately, more states are beginning to see it that way. David
And then just addressing one member's concern about cell-phone manufacturers adn retailers leaving the state and not selling here, this legislation does not just cover cell phones. Other electronics affected would be TVs, monitors, computers, laptops, printers, flat screens. I don't think that they will all stop selling in Oregon. and beyond electronics, this Right to Repair also covers earbuds, radios, video doorbells, tablets, smart watches, motion sensors, smoke alarms, fire alarm detectors, game controllers joy stick and the list goes on.
What we are more likely to find is that Oregon will be sued by these large corporate manufacturers for loss of profits, infringement on intellectual property rights, copyright protections. etc et c etc .