Right to Repair Legislation Would Reduce Barriers to Repair, Cut Waste

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Timothy Schaefer

Minnesota State Legislators Hear Testimony on New Environment Minnesota-Backed Legislation to Encourage Repairs, Cut Waste

Environment Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minn. – A bill introduced in the Minnesota State Legislature could lower barriers to repair and reduce waste. The bipartisan “Fair Repair Act” (SF 15, Sens. OsmekMarty and Pratt) requires companies to make replacement parts and tools available to consumers and repair shops and will help increase the viability of repair and reduce waste.

“We generate too much waste, and e-waste is a growing problem. But instead of making products easier to repair and salvage, companies make their products difficult or impossible for users to fix, which shortens the lifespan of these devices and adds to growing stockpiles of e-waste,” said Tim Schaefer, Director of Environment Minnesota.

The recent headlines concerning Apple give us a clear example of why Right to Repair, or Fair Repair reforms are gaining public support. In an attempt to prolong battery life, Apple has used a software update to throttle processors in their older phones which causes noticeable slow-downs for the users. In response to public blowback, they have offered a discounted $29 battery replacement, but these replacements now have large waitlists and must be done at an Apple store.

“We’ve seen quite an uptick in people coming in asking for battery replacements in the last few weeks on the batteries affected from the recent iOS updates. We can do the repair with the best available batteries on the market, but we cannot put in an original OEM battery, Apple OEM batteries are not available to any repair shops and currently and no one can buy them,” said Kyle Opdahl, who runs 10 cell phone repair and device repair shops in Minnesota. “Not everyone is close enough to an Apple store, and they have wait lists for battery replacements. Why not give people the option of taking their device to a local store, and small businesses the opportunity to keep phones running and off the junk pile?”

“A lot of people talk about the need to move to more sustainable ways of doing things to protect our air, water and health,” added Mr. Schaefer. “This is an easy, bipartisan, common-sense step that moves us in that direction. By far the largest environmental impact of consumer electronics is in manufacturing. For example, 81% of a desktop computer’s energy use is making it, 19% in using it. Extending the lifespan of these devices makes a huge environmental impact.”

The Fair Repair Act is supported by The Repair Association, an umbrella association of groups and businesses engaged in the repair, reuse, resale and recycling of modern electronic equipment, as well as a larger coalition of environmental, consumer and public interest organizations.