Right to Repair Gains Momentum in New York and California

by | Oct 16, 2023 | Business

The fight for the Right to Repair is gaining momentum across the United States, with significant implications for individual tech consumers and businesses. California recently joined the ranks of states enforcing the Right to Repair for electronics when Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 244, the Right to Repair Act, into law on Tuesday of this week. However, the Right to Repair movement isn’t limited to California. New York is also taking a bold step with its Digital Fair Repair Act, signaling a major turning point in the tech industry.

Going into effect on December 28, 2023, New York’s Digital Fair Repair Act is the very first Right to Repair bill ever passed into law. This law ensures that you can repair your own products without having to go to the original manufacturer for the repair.

What does Right to Repair mean?

Right to Repair ensures that consumers can choose the terms of their equipment repairs. In other words, it means less money spent on buying new equipment, and cheaper repair costs. 

New York’s new Right to Repair law requires original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to make diagnostic tools, repair manuals, and parts for ‘digital electronic equipment’ available on fair and reasonable terms, just as they do for their own technicians.

Currently, the tech industry discourages device repairs and upgrades, resulting in a growing mountain of e-waste. These practices are not only detrimental to the environment but also have significant consequences and financial costs for individuals and communities. This new law aims to solve some of these issues. 

New York’s Digital Fair Repair Act

New York’s Digital Fair Repair Act has the potential to revolutionize the way consumers interact with their electronic devices. It ensures that consumers have the right to choose the terms of their equipment repairs, effectively breaking the cycle of planned obsolescence.

This legislation, which applies to any digital electronic equipment with a value over ten dollars, could result in billions of dollars saved by consumers and a more sustainable business landscape.

The Fight Against Planned Obsolescence

Planned obsolescence, intentionally or not, is at the heart of the problem. This strategy keeps consumers constantly purchasing new items instead of repairing their existing ones. It’s achieved through various means, each presenting unique challenges, yet all leading to the same outcome – increased waste. The Digital Fair Repair Act aims to break this pattern and offer consumers more choice in repairing their used electronics.

Tech companies often produce devices with shorter lifespans, sometimes due to subpar components used to boost profit margins. Repairs might not even be feasible because necessary parts aren’t available, or manufacturers withhold diagnostic tools and schematics, making professional repairs impossible. Additionally, some devices integrate critical components directly into the board, making upgrades impossible and significantly limiting a device’s lifespan.

Moreover, many products have short software/firmware support cycles, preventing devices from running the latest apps or features, even when their hardware is capable. This not only renders devices less functional but also leaves them vulnerable to security breaches, forcing premature replacements to maintain data security.

Right to Repair Act Helps Recoup Investment on Electronics

The Digital Fair Repair Act requires manufacturers to make tools, parts, and software more accessible to consumers and ITAD professionals, empowering consumers to manage their device repairs or take them to independent repair facilities. Not only will manufacturers need to provide repair manuals free of charge, but they will also need to provide the proper tools needed to repair equipment free of charge. This will significantly cut down on the cost of electronic repairs. 

Additionally, investment in technology can be recouped, instead of simply thrown away. If you work with an ITAD service provider like CLR Solutions, you can repair and resell your old equipment in one fell swoop, and this new law has the potential to increase profit margin for investment recouping. 

Moreover, the human impact of electronic production and waste is substantial. New York’s new Right to Repair law could mitigate long-term human costs, such as health issues resulting from exposure and attempting to remediate contaminated areas. Poor health can cost more in the long run than the savings from planned obsolescence practices.

A Path to Sustainability

The environmental impact of electronics manufacturing and recycling is well-documented. Repairing a device is always more sustainable than recycling it or throwing it away. While reusing and recycling devices can help decrease the demand for new products, it only postpones the inevitable disposal. Devices that end up in landfills can leach harmful chemicals into the soil and groundwater.

Electronics manufacturing, often outsourced to countries with lax environmental regulations, relies on hazardous chemicals, harming local populations and ecosystems. The manufacturing process generates toxic by-products, sometimes irresponsibly dumped, polluting waterways and oceans.

Recycling, while a responsible choice, still generates considerable waste, especially when dealing with circuit boards. Most of the value in a circuit board lies in its metals, which can be extracted through various processes. However, the waste generated from these methods remains a challenge.

Repairing devices is the most sustainable method to extend the lifespan and usage of a device, aligning with the principles of the Digital Fair Repair Act.

What’s Next for the Right to Repair Movement?

For technology consumers, New York’s Digital Fair Repair Act is a turning point, granting greater consumer control, cost savings, and promoting sustainability. This new law, along with California’s Right to Repair Act (SB 244), marks a transformation in the tech industry that prioritizes longevity, sustainability, and the well-being of individuals and the environment over short-term profits. As the Right to Repair movement gains momentum, it is poised to redefine the tech landscape for everyone.

As consumers, we play a significant role in this change by advocating for more responsible practices and making mindful choices in our technology consumption. Consider recycling, repairing, and/or recouping your investment before throwing used electronics away. 

Call CLR Solutions today to start the conversation about how you can sustainably repair and reuse your tech.

About The Author

Chris Regan

Chris Regan

Founder of CLR Solutions LLC, a specialized electronics recycling/refurbishing and data security services firm which offers clients secure data destruction, equipment investment recovery solutions, electronic disposal, and recycling services. Over 15 years industry experience in various leadership and management roles. A drive and determination necessary to make any project successful.