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Explained: What is right to repair; how it's a big win for buyers and planet Earth

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Recently, Apple’s decision to introduce a self-repair programme that allows customers to repair their Apple products by using original Apple parts, tools and manuals was seen as a major step towards ensuring the ‘right to repair’ for electronics. 

Explained: What is right to repair; how it's a big win for buyers and planet Earth
From smartphones to air conditioners and fridges, modern life is incomplete without electronics. But like all things, electronics break down -- and repairing them becomes an ordeal.
Recently, Apple’s decision to introduce a self-repair programme that allows customers to repair their Apple products by using original Apple parts, tools and manuals was seen as a major step towards ensuring the ‘right to repair’ for electronic products.
What is ‘right to repair’?
Right to repair provides consumers of electronics the parts, tools and service information they need to repair products they buy. The right to repair does not, as many detractors often claim, force consumers to repair their products on their own.
Companies, especially those manufacturing tech equipment and machines, have been accused by activists, consumers and third-party repair technicians of intentionally making repairs harder.
Companies like John Deere, which manufactures tractors, have been sued by customers because of restrictions imposed by the company on letting consumers repair their vehicles. Apple, which famously prefers providing replacements over repairs, had been under fire for providing poor repair services and impeding consumers from repairing devices on their own.
“Manufacturers would prefer to sell you their latest models rather than repair your old electronics, so they work to make fixing their products too expensive or too impractical," write Kyle Wiens and Gay Gordon-Byrne, CEO of iFixit, and executive director of repair.org, respectively.
Why is the right to repair important?
The right to repair is important for consumers as well as the environment. With more devices being easily repaired, frequent repurchase of many electronic goods will be cut down. This can save consumers large sums of money over the lifespan of devices. Right to repair legislation often also tackles the issues of forced obsolescence, where manufacturers intentionally design products to have a limited lifespan with certain design choices.
As most of these products would earlier have been consigned to landfills, the right to repair also reduces the amount of e-waste. As electronic gadgets dominate everyday life, e-waste keeps multiplying.
Apart from reducing the generation of e-waste, the right to repair also improves the recyclability of electronic products. Recycling electronics is often an arduous process since the tools to easily open up appliances are not provided by manufacturers, and the schematics are also rarely shared.
What is being done to promote right to repair?
Countries are increasingly taking cognisance of the restrictions that manufacturers are placing on consumers to repair the products they own. The UK recently introduced new legislation to make manufacturers legally bound to make spare parts for products available to customers for the first time such a requirement arises. The US Federal Trade Commission under the Biden administration has also been investigating matters related to repair restrictions since July.
 
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