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Right to Repair Movement

  • 13 Jul 2021
  • 5 min read

Why in News

In recent years, countries around the world have been attempting to pass effective 'right to repair' laws.

  • The movement traces its roots back to the very dawn of the computer era in the 1950s.
  • The goal of the movement is to get companies to make spare parts, tools and information on how to repair devices available to customers and repair shops to increase the lifespan of products and to keep them from ending up in landfills.

Key Points

  • Right to Repair:
    • The Right to Repair electronics refers to government legislation that is intended to allow consumers the ability to repair and modify their own consumer electronic devices, where otherwise the manufacturer of such devices require the consumer to use only their offered services.
    • The idea originally originated from the USA where the Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act 2012, required the manufacturers to provide the necessary documents and information to allow anyone to repair their vehicles.
  • Benefits:
    • This will help boost business for small repair shops, which are an important part of local economies.
    • It will help reduce the vast mountain of electrical waste (e-waste) that piles up each year on the continent.
    • It will save consumers’ money.
    • It will contribute to circular economy objectives by improving the life span, maintenance, re-use, upgrade, recyclability and waste handling of appliances.
  • Reason for Encouraging the Movement:
    • Electronic manufacturers are encouraging a culture of ‘planned obsolescence’.
      • ‘Planned obsolescence’ means that devices are designed specifically to last a limited amount of time and to be replaced.
    • This can lead to immense pressure on the environment and wasted natural resources.
      • Manufacturing an electronic device is a highly polluting process. It makes use of polluting sources of energy, such as fossil fuel, which has an adverse impact on the environment.
  • Reason for Opposing:
    • Large tech companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Tesla have argued that opening up their intellectual property to third party repair services or amateur repairers could lead to exploitation and impact the safety and security of their devices.
  • Right to Repair Movement around the World:
    • The United States President has signed an executive order calling on the Federal Trade Commission to curb restrictions imposed by manufacturers that limit consumers’ ability to repair their gadgets on their own terms.
    • The UK, too, introduced right-to-repair rules that should make it much easier to buy and repair daily-use gadgets such as TVs and washing machines.

E-waste in India

  • Official Data:
  • Indian Initiatives:
    • E-Waste Management Rules, 2016:
      • The rules aim to enable the recovery and/or reuse of useful material from e-waste, thereby reducing the hazardous wastes destined for disposal and to ensure the environmentally sound management of all types of waste of electrical and electronic equipment.
    • E-Waste Clinic:
      • Aimed at segregating, processing and disposal of waste.

Way Forward

  • Right to Repair law could be especially valuable in a country like India, where service networks are often spotty and authorised workshops are few and far between in the hinterland.
  • India’s informal repair sector does a good job with jugaad. But the quality of repair and maintenance services could improve substantially if such legislation was adopted.

Source: IE

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