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As national momentum builds, Washington Legislature holds Right to Repair hearing

Diverse coalition of repair shops, consumer interest groups, and environmental non-profits call to end manufacturer repair monopoly
For Immediate Release

A diverse coalition of repair shops, security experts, school district representatives, digital equity groups, consumer advocates and environmental non-profits urged the Washington House committee on Thursday to pass “Right to Repair'' legislation – House Bill 1810 (Gregerson). Similar to other repair legislation around the country, HB 1810 aims to tackle the growing problem of unrepairable electronic products by requiring cell phone, laptop and tablet manufacturers to make parts, tools and manuals available to consumers and independent repair shops. 

"I am bringing forward this bill because too many people struggle to get affordable devices and keep them working,” said bill sponsor Rep. Mia Gregerson of South King County. “Making sure local repair shops have what they need helps rural and low-income communities, helps the environment and is just common sense."

“Just here in Washington, we get rid of some 8,700 cell phones every day. That’s just absurd,” said Nicole Walter, Advocate for WashPIRG, who is backing the bill. “And it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The companies that make so many of our products no longer give us what we need to fix them, and the result is extra cost for consumers and toxic electronic waste.” 

PIRG research has calculated that keeping our phones for just one year longer would be the equivalent of taking 14,600 cars off the road. In addition to being bad for the planet, most people would rather just fix what they have. 

"When my customers' devices break, their world often stops. I find the work I do to be very rewarding because it allows me to help my community get back up and running again” said Mitch Kramer, local repair shop owner. “However, manufacturers have continued to make it as difficult as possible to repair these devices. This forces my customers to send off the device to the manufacturer, or unnecessarily purchase a new device, when all they really need is a quick fix from a local shop, like mine."

“When people can extend the life of their electronic devices, it makes a big difference for waste,” said Heather Trim, executive director of Zero Waste Washington, who is backing the bill. “We want people to fix things, not toss them. A Right To Repair law is important for the sake of our climate and our planet.”

The issue has gained momentum in the past year. Microsoft and Apple have promised to expand access to repair for their devices. Apple announced in November modest but meaningful self-repair policy changes for the iPhone 12 and 13. While just the first step in reforming our tech industry, these announcements show Right to Repair legislation is reasonable, and doable.

Over the summer, President Joe Biden signed an executive order calling for the Federal Trade Commission to prevent manufacturers from restricting people from fixing their own equipment and devices. Manufacturers have made a variety of arguments defending their repair restrictions including: proprietary information, trade secrets, safety, security and even environmental protection. These arguments were repeated during the hearing, but a 2021 unanimous Federal Trade Commission report found “scant evidence” justifying repair restrictions. 

Right to Repair testimony before the committee can be viewed following the hearing on the Consumer Protection and Business Committee website. The legislation is backed by WashPIRG, iFixit, Zero Waste Washington, NFIB, Share the Cities Action Fund, and a host of repair shops, security experts and many others (more than 350 people signed into the committee to support the bill).

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