California legislature passes Right to Repair bill

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California State Legislature approved the Right to Repair Act today, with a 30-0 vote in the Senate and 65-1 vote in the Assembly. Senate Bill 244, by state Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman, would significantly expand consumers’ and independent repair shops’ access to repair materials needed to fix electronics and appliances. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature.

“I’m grateful to my colleagues in the Legislature, the advocates fueling this movement, and the manufacturers that have come along with us to support Californians’ Right to Repair,” said Senator Eggman. “This is a common sense bill that will help small repair shops, give choice to consumers, and protect the environment.”

Advocates have been pushing for Right to Repair legislation in California for 5 years. Similar bills have died in the state’s Senate Appropriations Committee the past two years after intense industry lobbying efforts against their passage. But public support for the Right to Repair in the state has grown alongside a swell of national momentum. New York, Colorado and Minnesota all passed their own Right to Repair laws in the past year. 

“This is a victory for every Californian. We can thank the scrappy group of tinkerers, consumers, environmentalists and small business owners who came together to take on the tech industry and win back the right to fix our own stuff,” said Jenn Engstrom, state director of CALPIRG. “When you buy something, you should be able to do what you want with it. But when it comes to repair, for too long, electronics manufacturers have made it difficult to live by that core principle. Right to repair makes sense on multiple levels: it’s better for the planet and saves consumers money.”

The Right to Repair Act would bring more competition and consumer choice to the repair marketplace, saving Californian households roughly $5 billion per year. Keeping electronics in use longer is also expected to reduce the amount of electronic waste sent to California landfills and reduce the need for additional mining and production to replace, rather than repair, devices. Californians currently throw away 46,000 cell phones a day and 772,000 tons of electronic waste — which often contains toxic heavy metals — per year. 

“It is completely unacceptable that consumers are expected to spend thousands of dollars on tech that is intended to be nearly-disposable, with an assumption that they will want to ‘upgrade’ to the latest and greatest with ever-growing frequency every time a battery can’t hold a charge,” said Nick Lapis, director of advocacy for Californians Against Waste. “Planned obsolescence is inherently unsustainable—in every sense of the word—and this creates an enormous toll on both the environment and our pocketbooks. We are incredibly grateful to Senator Eggman for her tenacity in standing up to some of California’s largest companies that have a lot to gain from perpetuating the status quo.”

The Right to Repair Act is backed by 82 independent repair shops, 109 local elected officials, more than 50 environmental and consumer groups, and various other recyclers, school boards and law professors.  

In late August, Apple announced its support of the legislation. For years, Apple has been one of the most visible opponents of repair access while lobbying against giving consumers and independent repair shops what they need to fix devices. However, with the Right to Repair movement gaining recognition and support — and leading to laws in other states — Apple has reversed course and commended SB 244 for striking the right balance between “consumer choice and reliable repairs.”  HP also came on board in September. 

“It’s great to have Apple cross the finish line with us in California—and it’ll be even better when they’re complying with this law, making repair materials available for everything they sell,” said Elizabeth Chamberlain, director of sustainability at iFixit. “Soon it’ll be up to Californians to do our part and get our stuff fixed when it breaks.”   

In total, 30 states have considered or are considering similar legislation in 2023. Passing SB 244 in California, the home of Silicon Valley, should further energize the Right to Repair movement nationwide.

“Even in the home state of Big Tech, the Right to Repair is an idea whose time has come,” said Engstrom. “We’re proud that with the visionary leadership of Senator Eggman, California can set an example for other states to follow.”

California's road to Right to Repair

After 6 years of campaigning, a coalition of consumer groups, environmentalists, and repair enthusiasts celebrates the Right to Repair Act.

Photo by Andy Smith | TPIN

Right to Repair legislation was first introduced in California in 2018 by then-Assemblymember Susan Eggman.

Photo by Staff | TPIN

We wrote and released 9 original reports on the problems with repair restrictions and how Right to Repair can help consumers. In 2019 then-CALPIRG State Director Emily Rusch talked to ABC 7 News about "What are Californians Fixing"

Photo by ABC 7 Bay Area | Public Domain

The Biden Administration has called for new rules on Right to Repair, and the Federal Trade Commission has made it an area of focus, publishing "Nixing the Fix," which found "scant evidence" against Right to Repair

Photo by @POTUS, X | Public Domain

In February 2022 and 2023, CALPIRG released "Failing the Fix," which grades laptop and cell phone companies on the fixability of their products. CALPIRG Advocate Sander Kushen and iFixit Sustainability Director Elizabeth Chamberlin released the 2023 scorecard outside a Best Buy in Los Angeles.

Photo by Elizabeth Chamberlin | Used by permission

Over 80 repair shops signed on in support of the Right to Repair Act, and many repair shop owners attended the Right to Repair lobby day, describing the impact of repair restrictions on their small businesses directly to legislators.

Photo by Staff | TPIN

Over 50 environmental groups signed on in support of Right to Repair, calling for a need to reduce toxic electronic waste in our landfills and environment. Here CALPIRG State Director Jenn Engstrom demonstrates the amount of e-waste Californians generate every 10 seconds.

Photo by Nick Lapis | Used by permission

CALPIRG and our coalition drummed up support for Right to Repair through opinion media across the state

Photo by Staff | TPIN

Over 100 local elected officials signed on in support of Right to Repair. Glendale Mayor Dan Brotman and Pasadena Vice Mayor Felicia Williams joined CALPIRG at the Pasadena Repair Cafe to release "Repair Saves Families Big", a report on the benefits of Right to Repair.

Photo by Staff | TPIN

Several California newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, editorialized in support of Right to Repair.

Photo by Staff | TPIN

The Right to Repair Act was featured in KQED, ABC 7 Bay Area, the San Francisco Chronicle, the OC Register, and other media outlets.

Photo by Staff | TPIN

CALPIRG State Director Jenn Engstrom provided expert testimony in support of the Right to Repair Act

Photo by Staff | TPIN

Dan Salsburg with the Federal Trade Commission testified in support of the Right to Repair Act.

Photo by Staff | TPIN

CALPIRG Student volunteers held a summer lobby day in support of Right to Repair. CALPIRG organizer Emily Hance-Royse spoke to NBC Sacramento about why increasing repair access matters to young people and the environment.

Photo by KCRA | TPIN

Local repair workshops showed state leaders the support for Right to Repair in their community. Assemblymember Chris Holden came by the Pasadena Repair Cafe.

Photo by Staff | TPIN

CALPIRG and our coalition generated hundreds of petition signatures and phone calls in support of Right to Repair.

Photo by Staff | TPIN

In August, Apple Inc. announced support for the California Right to Repair Act

Photo by Staff | TPIN

The Right to Repair Act was approved by the State Assembly in September, thanks to leadership from Assemblymember Buffy Wicks.

Photo by Staff | TPIN

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