What is Right to Repair, why should I care, what has it got to anything, and why now? Well, these are the things that we will be discussing in detail in this blog.
Right To Repair Explained!!!
In the last five years, the tech world has been running along a path that is not at all customer-friendly. With the companies looking to juice every dollar of their product, they resort to restricting access to their devices even after selling them. This has made their devices almost unrepairable even by them often, forget about independent shops and repairers. Using Glue instead of screws, integrating batteries with the chips, and much more. No doubt that this has made devices more waterproof, compact, and probably less expensive. These are made in a factory environment where gluing things together is less expensive than hiring a worker to screw every part. But at what cost?
With the devices made with tighter integration and programming every component of their devices, such that only they will be able to repair it. These giants almost strangle you to be in their circle of sales and quote a ridiculous price on repairs and subscriptions. And if you are not willing to pay this high price after you bought their devices, they will make sure the only option you are left with is to buy a new device and face the Deja vu again. Wow, that feels suffocating and trapped!!!
When Did It All Began
In industrial-economic terms, it is called Planned Obsolescence. To your surprise, this is not new. A design strategy that American industrial designer Brooks Stevens first proposed in 1954. According to him, products should become obsolete by design before they failed, if you want to improve sales. Incremental annual design updates would be “a little newer, a little better, and a little sooner than necessary.” Hmm, “a little better; little newer” sounds like some company products we know(Not to name any).
A Possible Way Out
So what do you think might help you get out of this eternal loop of well-thought economic strategy. Well, an act that was first proposed in another industry facing the same dilemma at that time. Yes, the Right to Repair Act (United States’ first Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Act in 2012, Massachusetts) mandated automobile manufacturers to provide the necessary documents and information to allow anyone to repair their vehicles.
We are facing the same situation the automobile industry faced at that time. But, of course, this time also likes previously, some giants are retaliating, saying that this would hurt the innovation and industry pace. Also, they argue that giving out their designs would hurt their business as anyone with the designs and components would be able to replicate and make a phone of their own. Well, this argument is preposterous at best; For example, “Repairing a Tesla is to manufacturing a Tesla, as driving into a supermarket is to landing on the moon (Mars in this case).”
Plus, Nobody is asking the companies to reveal their exact specification of chips, processors, and equipment, which a big group of highly qualified engineers and programmers have worked on for years. What we want from them is the right to access OEM components and resources to make repairs to consumers’ devices when required. For example, take the automobile industry; you don’t go to a single showroom in your town for every small repair on your car. This is as simple as that.
Got Cracked Screen?
A Pretentious Marketing Gimmick In Action
Until now, we haven’t even got to the environmental impact it is making. Apple Inc. prides itself on the fact that they are pro-environment and pro-nature. They don’t even hesitate to market its full-page ad on their website claiming to be carbon neutral by 2030, which any environmentalist will tell is out and out a marketing gimmick.
Reuse, Reduce and recycle are in order of logic and for a reason. It doesn’t matter how much Apple claims to recycle its product. It can never be carbon neutral as recycling; first of all, It is expensive; second, it is hard to manage, and third have emission issues of its own.
On the other hand, the repair will get off with only a small component of your damaged product. Keeping the entire device the same—That’s how you become carbon neutral or almost near. Plus, the damaged equipment will now be easier to recycle as there is no more need to segregate it with respect to material, keeping you ahead in the recycling front too.
Why Should We Care
The United States generated 6.92 million tons of e-waste, which is second to China. Which averages to 46 pounds per person of waste we throwback into the dumping ground. And only 15% of all this mountain has been recycled; another nail into the coffin of Apple’s marketing Gimmick. All of this and not taking into account the impact it has on the environment and us when this waste releases toxic components like mercury, lead, cadmium, polybrominated flame retardants, barium, and lithium. Even the plastic casings of electronic products contain polyvinyl chloride.
Now hypothetically, what if we were able to repair even the 40% of the components we normally throw. A study showed that extending the life of the average smartphone from 3 years to 4 (Just one year) would reduce the number of phones ending up as e-waste by 25%. And smartphone only constitutes 10% of the e-Waste. So imagine what we will be able to do if we were able to repair all our smart devices.
Right to repair is truly on the rise thanks to the environment-sensitive generation that understands the risk of global warming, environmental poisoning and is willing to sacrifice luxury to have a better future. This generation doesn’t judge the amount of revenue the company generates but judges the impact it makes on the life of others and, most importantly, God’s green earth.