Release: Californians throw away 1.5 tons of e-waste every minute. The Right to Repair Act would help.

Media Contacts
Sander Kushen

Former Consumer Advocate, CALPIRG

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Lawmakers, students and environmental activists gathered at the steps of the state Capitol Tuesday next to a large pile of electronic waste. The broken phones, tablets and computers served as a stark representation of growing e-waste in California. 

“Our state has an electronic waste problem, said CALPIRG State Director Jenn Engstrom.  “Californian households alone throw away 46,000 cell phones every day. Manufacturers of everything from smartphones to refrigerators restrict access to necessary repair materials, leaving us with few options when our stuff breaks. We need California to fix its laws so that we can fix our stuff.”

CALPIRG State Director Jenn Engstrom addresses the media in front of 500 pounds of e-waste, the approximate amount that Californians generate every five seconds.Photo by CALPIRG | TPIN

To keep more electronic waste out of the scrap heap, advocates called for the passage of state Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman’s Right to Repair Act (Senate Bill 244), which would  provide Californians the resources they need to fix electronics. 

“When electronics manufacturers make it impossible for consumers and independent repair businesses to make basic repairs, that hurts both people and the planet,” said Sen. Eggman. “Letting people fix their stuff is the right thing to do on many levels.”

Research from CALPIRG Education Fund found that Californians throw away 1.5 tons of e-waste each minute. The group displayed 244 lbs of e-waste at the Capitol to represent the e-waste Californians generate every five seconds. 

“When our electronic devices end up in the landfill, they leach toxic chemicals into the surrounding soil and groundwater. This is why we need upstream solutions that help consumers hold on to their devices and appliances longer,” said Nick Lapis, director of advocacy for Californians Against Waste and a bill co-sponsor. “SB 244 provides Californians with better options for repair while reducing the environmental impact of our e-waste.”

The Right to Repair is widely supported by Californians across the political spectrum. SB 244 passed out of the State Senate with a bipartisan 38-0 vote. The bill, co-sponsored by CALPIRG, iFixit and Californians Against Waste, is backed by 82 independent repair shops, 109 local elected officials, more than 50 environmental groups and many recyclers, school boards and law professors.

“Our coalition is broad and eclectic because all Californians know how frustrating it is to hear that we can’t fix something broken,” said Dr. Elizabeth Chamberlain of iFixit, one of the bill’s other co-sponsors. “We should be able to fix the things we buy, without limitations from manufacturers.”

The Right to Repair Act currently sits in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. If the committee approves the bill, it will head to the Assembly floor for a final vote.

CALPIRG Students posing with Assemblymember Bennett, of the co-authors of the Right to Repair ActPhoto by CALPIRG | TPIN