Zest is a company that knows technology like the back of our hand, interacting with users of technology, and helping people repair or replace their items when they need to.
The right to repair movement is something that has always interested us, and as a technology insurance company, we have a unique viewpoint to the huge companies at the root of the issue. We encourage repairs, it makes economically more sense for us, is better for the environment, and cheaper for the customer.
So, what’s stopping technology companies from doing the same and encouraging repairs for the benefit of your wallet, communities, and the planet? Let’s take a deep dive into the right to repair movement.
What is the right to repair and its mission?
The right to repair is a movement across the globe that looks to make sure everyone has the right to repair their devices, rather than being forced to buy new ones. By doing this, it aims to cut down on e-waste by attacking the foundation of the problem: the production of the devices.
The 6 Rs of sustainability are values we can use to channel our thinking about the right to repair & sustainability in general:
- Rethink: Do I have to buy this? Can I buy second-hand?
- Refuse: Is it necessary for me to buy this?
- Reduce: Waste less & use less.
- Repair: Can it be repaired?
- Reuse: Can you find a new use for it before throwing it away?
- Recycle: Recycle as much as you possibly can.
What is E-Waste?
E-waste stands for “electronic waste”. This includes anything with wires, plugs, and electronic parts. Common sources of e-waste include televisions, computers, mobile phones, and any type of appliance, from air conditioners to even kids’ toys.
Single-use plastics and landfill waste are far from the only contributors to waste. Because electronics are hard to repair or difficult to recycle, so much electronic waste gets thrown into landfills. This stops the reuse of all this recyclable waste.
The Scale & Origin of E-Waste
The Global E-waste Monitor 2020 report, published by the United Nations University, found that almost 55 million metric tons of e-waste were generated in 2019.
The amount of e-waste generated globally has grown by 9.2 million metric tons since 2014 and is expected to exceed 70 million metric tons by 2030.
The report found the growth of e-waste is driven forward mainly by high consumption of electrical and electronic equipment, short life cycles, and few repair options. Mostly things within the manufacturer’s control.
It’s made even clearer why it’s the manufacturers the movement is looking to hold to account when you consider the Restart Project’s research that found that around 79% of an average smartphone’s CO2e impact happens before the customer even uses the phone.
If the average person gets a new phone every two years, then most people would have more than 30 phones in their entire lifetime. Compare and Recycle’s research finds that the average carbon footprint of an iPhone is around 77.64kg (equivalent to 8.7 gallons of petrol) of CO2e, with the newest versions amassing even more emissions.
We know that the reality can’t be too far from these figures, as Apple has been selling over 210 million iPhones per year since 2015.
What owning 30 iPhones would translate to is an average of 2329.2kg of CO2e just from your iPhone usage alone: a staggering amount.
Why it is Difficult to Repair Electronic Items
In the last 20 years, as more and more electrical items have been produced, technology companies get scarily close to a monopoly, and dominate the market and its consumers more than ever. With this, these companies have tried to make it as difficult as possible to repair your technology. yourself.
One way in which they do this is by limiting the availability of parts, making troubleshooting software unavailable. Making it harder to diagnose, so you’ll most likely buy new to save the hassle.
It doesn’t seem to be getting any easier to repair these items either. Some manufacturers seem to use adhesives on certain parts of their electronics, so that if you try to take it apart to fix it, you may void its warranty or break the item altogether.
Another way they make it difficult is by lobbying against any legislation helping the consumer’s right to repair. Microsoft for example is suspected of offering to pay higher taxes to fund STEM education in order to block a right to repair bill in 2019.
Other companies known for lobbying against the right to repair include Amazon, Google, Apple, and Google.
Who Really Loses in this?
The obvious answer is that the consumer loses. We must spend more money replacing products, and our money only fuels these giant companies that perpetuate this problem. But that’s not the only loser.
The local repairman, your local community and economy, and the planet are the slightly less obvious answers. By stopping people from going to their local repairmen for their broken technology, business is being lost and in turn, money is flowing away from the local economy.
Your community benefits from the local economy doing well, so to take away the local repair men’s business only hurts the community and the people within it.
Finally, it is the planet that loses out. The rate we’re pumping into these landfills is not sustainable, and the lack of action against it is worrying.
You can support the right to repair movement by signing petitions, raising awareness, donating to related organizations and charities, contacting government representatives, and even volunteering if you can.
Here are some resources to check out:
Fresh thinking appliance care. Cover all your appliances under one roof, hassle-free, and best of all no loopholes. Our aim is to make insuring appliances a smooth, friendly experience that you can count on in those times of need, whether it’s a repair, replacement, or just some technical advice; we’ve got your back.