Right To Repair Electronics

Right to Repair Electronics 

Ask yourself a question - “When was the last time you were able to disassemble a damaged electronic device and replace a component without assistance from the manufacturer?” If you’re like the rest of us, it’s probably been a while. Although some of us have gotten used to this new age of single-use electronics and costly repairs, others have taken notice of the significant disadvantage we’re at as consumers. We’re at the mercy of big tech companies to maintain, update, and replace our electronics, and they have no competition to allow fair and competitive pricing. “Right to Repair,” otherwise known as “Fair Repair Legislation,” is a growing movement to offer consumers and small businesses the ability to modify and repair products without having to rely on the manufacturer. While the legislation is gaining momentum and seeing increased support in recent years, the pushback from big tech companies is persistent - keeping digital repair legislation from adequately taking hold. More than half of all US states now have a Right to Repair bill active, though, so the campaign has never looked more optimistic.

A Brief History of Fair Repair Legislation

Fair Repair legislation began in the automotive industry in 2012 with the “Motor Vehicles Owners’ Right to Repair Act” - proposed legislation that would require car manufacturers to provide consumers with the information needed to repair vehicles. While this legislation did not pass on a federal level, most motor vehicle trade organizations recognized these consumer rights. A memorandum was signed, holding all 50 states to Massachusetts law beginning in 2018, which has since been amended to keep companies - like Tesla - from taking advantage of loopholes in the original legislation. 

Many in the technology industry recognized the benefits and importance of the Right to Repair movement in the automotive industry and built a coalition to focus on tech - The Digital Right to Repair Coalition. The organization has since changed its name to The Repair Association and is now the largest organization fighting for digital repair rights in the electronics industry. Their focus is on tractors, cars, and electronics, but the change is being driven for all industries - keeping large corporations from taking advantage of consumers as technology and innovation evolves. 

How Digital Waste Contributes to Environmental Degradation

The environmental impact of e-waste is of growing concern, and for good reason. In the US alone, Americans dispose of over 400,000 smartphones every day - of which only about 20% is recycled. Electronic waste contains a multitude of toxic substances that wreak havoc on the environment and the life within it. Once electronics enter a landfill or waste site, the materials are degraded over time - releasing toxic chemicals into the ground, air, and water. Not only do these chemicals affect the environment and the natural processes they undergo, but studies have linked human and animal health directly to waste sites and the chemicals coming from them. 

As big tech companies continue to keep consumers from updating, repairing, and replacing their current electronics, e-waste continues to grow - furthering environmental concerns. While the movement for digital repair rights is on the move, smaller brands and companies will need to play their part in pushing toward a more sustainable future. The more small companies that can show success without sacrificing profitability or environmental health, the more likely the tech industry will feel pressure to make considerable changes - legislation or not.

Changing Paths

With so much attention put on the Right to Repair movement, some big tech companies are beginning to actively make changes to the way they do business. Microsoft, for example, released a 2019 laptop that was heavily criticized for being impossible to repair without destroying the structure of the machine - meaning replacement parts far exceeded the cost of a new device. The changing landscape for electronics repair drove Microsoft to make considerable improvements in the following year’s model. The new model not only allowed for much easier and more affordable in-home maintenance, but the company even advertised self-repair as one of its key features - a promising movement for the future of consumer repair rights. 

Setting examples like those mentioned above will need to occur more frequently to provoke industry-wide change, and we as consumers will need to continue to shed light on the problem through various outlets. “Junked by Design” is one of these outlets, providing a series of blog posts aiming to put these issues into perspective. Consumers have long known that their electronic products were not meant to last, be it computers, smartphones, or appliances, but we seem to just take it in stride. Education will be critical moving forward, and these types of resources will help do just that. 

How Teracube is Playing a Role

Here at Teracube, we’re dedicated to creating and providing products with the customer and environment in mind. Our smartphones are engineered with eco-friendly materials and are built to withstand the test of time - offering a lifespan of at least 4 years, backed by our manufacturer warranty. Our modular design allows for easy repair and parts replacement. To top it all off, we pledge to plant a tree for every device sold, helping offset our company’s carbon footprint - as small as it may be. 

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