Right to Repair
EcoJustice Radio

Freedom to Repair: Taking on Manufacturers & Winning


EcoJustice RadioThe Right to Repair our electronics and other consumer products has become a national and global movement. On this EcoJustice Radio show, we discuss how manufacturers are being required to provide repair tools, parts, and manuals and examine concern around manufacturer compliance.

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Freedom to Repair: Taking on Product Manufacturers & Winning - EcoJustice Radio

Repair Revolution: Taking on Product Manufacturers

The freedom to repair our electronics and other materials sounds like a no-brainer. But historically manufacturers have said otherwise and fought, with millions of dollars, to stop legislation that allows consumers access to the resources to repair items like cell phones, toasters, and even tractor trucks.

On this show Right to Repair takes center stage with guests Liv Butler, Policy Associate for Californians Against Waste and Elizabeth Chamberlain, Director of Sustainability for iFixit. From new legislation in California to the national and global movement and successes, we discuss how manufacturers are being required to provide repair tools, parts, and manuals and examine concern around manufacturer compliance.

Right to Repair is an important element in combating planned obsolescence and empowers consumers and small businesses. Our guests provide a thought-provoking look at this intersection of environmentalism, economics, and consumer rights and access.

You may be surprised to learn that fixing your own items doesn’t actually void the manufacturers’ warranty. We discuss this and much more.


Right to Repair Interview Excerpts

Jessica Aldridge: Liz Chamberlain, I think it’s important for us to define what is meant by right to repair. Can you define it for us?

Elizabeth Chamberlain: Yeah. So right to repair is the idea that you should be able to fix everything you own. That means you should be able to take your stuff to a repair shop of your choice, or if you want, you should be able to fix it yourself. And manufacturers shouldn’t be able to limit your access to the materials that you need to fix your things.

Jessica Aldridge: Clearly and succinctly, expressed. Thank you for that. And this is a question for both of you. To me, it sounds like right to a repair is a no brainer, something that we all should be able to do to extend the life of our electronics, plus to save all those precious resources and the impacts, the environmental and social justice impacts of them. Right? What has been the opposition of right to repair legislation? And what manufacturers I mean, I mentioned Apple earlier what manufacturers have been the biggest opponents, and maybe we’ll start, Liz, Elizabeth, with you, and then we get your take. Liv.

Elizabeth Chamberlain: Yeah, so repair is pretty lucrative, both because when manufacturers have a monopoly, they can charge whatever prices they want, and they can upsell you. They can push you to upgrade instead of repairing if they want. And so in every industry where we fought for right to repair, we see manufacturers trying to hold on to these repair monopolies and keep you coming back to their stores. So in electronics, it’s Apple. Absolutely. It’s all the major manufacturers, all the major electronics lobbying groups. In farm equipment. It’s John Deere. It’s Case, New Holland. In medical devices, it’s groups like Steris. So, really, anywhere that manufacturers have a monopoly on repair, which is in a surprising range of product categories, they try to hold on to those monopolies.

Liv Butler: And Liz put it pretty succinctly pretty well, mostly industry. Industry is the one, working both upfront. You see them around the Capitol and behind the scenes to make sure that they can hold on to those repair monopolies. They don’t want people fixing their own stuff because it is lucrative, as well as they tend to say that there are privacy concerns that people, will be able to see your data, or, there are trade secrets that they are worried about being exposed by third party repair technicians. But a lot of those people are people who are either previously trained by them and then go work at an independent shop or are not interested, in selling that data or knowing or exposing it, or even have access to it. So those are the opponents and their concerns in relation to Right to Repair.

EcoJustice Radio Right to Repair

Liv Butler is a Policy Associate at the Sacramento-based environmental advocacy group, Californians Against Waste. There, she works on legislation related to Extended Producer Responsibility and recycling issues.

Elizabeth Chamberlain heads iFixit’s advocacy work, supporting Right to Repair legislation around the globe and pushing for more repair in green electronics standards. The role blends her commitment to climate action, her love of technology, and her doctoral work in digital rhetoric.

Jessica Aldridge, Co-Host and Producer of EcoJustice Radio, is an environmental educator, community organizer, and 16-year recycling industry and Zero Waste leader. She is a co-founder of SoCal 350, organizer for ReusableLA, and founded Adventures in Waste. She is a former professor of Recycling and Resource Management at Santa Monica College, and an award recipient of the international 2021 Women in Sustainability Leadership and the 2016 inaugural Waste360, 40 Under 40. In her day job she is the Sustainability and Zero Waste Programs Director for Athens Services.


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Executive Producer: Jack Eidt
Host and Producer: Jessica Aldridge
Engineer and Original Music: Blake Quake Beats
Ep. 196

Published 6 November 2023, Updated 5 December 2023

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  1. Pingback: The Right to Repair Devices & the Corporate Stranglehold - WilderUtopia

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