New York has passed legislation that supports the right to repair end-of-life electronics, the first US state to do so. E-scrap recyclers and repair experts have reacted with relief and enthusiasm.
When the law changes in mid-2023, manufacturers who sell digital electronic products in New York will have to make parts, tools, information, and software available to consumers and independent repair shops.
‘One giant leap for repair,’ exclaims Kyle Wiens, founder of online repair community iFixit. ‘Repair is a joint responsibility and for the last few decades manufacturers have been shirking theirs. They stopped selling parts. We need to shift to a society where fixing and maintaining things is the default, not the exception. I’m confident we can make that happen.’
The New York legislation represents a ‘landmark victory’ for the recycling industry across the entire US, underlines Kevin O’Reilly, director of the Right to Repair Campaign at the United States Public Interest Research Group.
‘There’s still a lot of work to do to make sure people in the medical industry can fix medical equipment and farmers can fix their tractors,’ he says. ‘But holy smokes—we took on the world’s biggest companies and won. Now let’s keep pushing until people in every state can fix all of their devices.’
Blood, sweat and tears
Wiens complains that leading brands like Apple have skirted around the right to repair topic for many years. The company finally announced it would be providing spare parts, tools and manuals for consumers, starting with the iPhone 12, at the end of 2021.
‘In the past three years, we have nearly doubled the number of service locations with access to Apple genuine parts, tools, and training, and now we’re providing an option for those who wish to complete their own repairs,’ comments company ceo Jeff Williams.
‘Apple was the first electronics manufacturer with open source, Creative Commons licensed manuals for every product they sold – because I did it for them,’ Wiens recalls. ‘Since 2003, iFixit has systematically, painstakingly disassembled every new gadget. Every iPod. Every MacBook. Every iPhone.
‘We have sweated and cursed and bled, reverse engineering the often-opaque repair process,’ the entrepreneur laments. ‘We probably put tens of thousands of hours of work into creating a repair ecosystem to extend the life of Apple’s products.’
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