Electronics recyclers say so-called “right to repair” laws, which require manufacturers to provide access to manuals and electronics parts for their products, would help address the growing e-waste problem, according to a Waste Dive report.
Fives states — South Dakota, New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Nebraska — have introduced right to repair or fair repair bills since 2014, but all have been killed in the states’ legislatures. Manufacturers, including Apple, Cisco and Xerox, have opposed these efforts and lobbied against the right to repair bills.
“When there’s no competition for repair, guess what manufacturers do? They price their repair to be a reason to buy a new one,” Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of The Repair Association, told Waste Dive. “It’s not nefarious, it’s just obvious.”
Globally, more than 20 million tons of e-waste are produced every year, with the US generating about 3.4 million tons of that. The EPA estimates e-waste is growing at a rate of two to three times faster than any other regulated waste stream.
The Repair Associations has been leading advocacy efforts promoting right to repair laws, which would also benefit electronics technicians.
Repair company iFixit estimates that in addition to putting a huge dent in the e-waste problem, 200 repair jobs could be created for every 1,000 tons of used electronics that are repaired instead of recycled (creating 15 jobs) or landfilled, which creates less than one job.