Right to Repair Act passes Oregon House

The Oregon State House passed Oregon’s Right to Repair Act (SB 1596) by a 42-13 margin on Monday. The legislation now heads to Gov. Tina Kotek. Once it reaches her desk, she will have five days to sign the bill into law. 

“As a tech industry leader, Oregon is no stranger to innovation. I’m proud that we’re moving forward on an innovation even more critical than a new gadget: the right to fix our electronic devices,” said Charlie Fisher, OSPIRG state director,  “By eliminating manufacturer restrictions, the Right to Repair will make it easier for Oregonians to keep their personal electronics running. That will conserve precious natural resources and prevent waste. It’s a refreshing alternative to a ‘throwaway’ system that treats everything as disposable.”

The Right to Repair movement is growing around the country. Oregon is the fourth state to pass similar legislation. However, Oregon’s bill is the first to directly address the anti-consumer practice of “parts pairing,” which is often used to inhibit independent and self-repair by reducing functionality of products fixed outside of a manufacturer’s “authorized repair” network. For example, according to a recent test from iFixit, replacing a screen on a brand new iPhone 15 caused the front-facing camera and auto brightness to stop working altogether due to parts pairing. 

“Oregon’s Right to Repair Act is about saving Oregonians money and supporting small business growth in Oregon. It provides positive environmental action by reducing e-waste, cutting pollution by manufacturing less waste and creating an after-market inventory of products to close the digital divide across our state”, said Senator Janeen Sollman (D – Hillsboro), the Chief Sponsor in the Senate.  “Oregonians deserve to have affordable and sustainable options for repairing their electronics instead of throwing them away or replacing them.

According to an analysis by OSPIRG, a non-partisan public interest group supporting the bill, being able to fix phones, computers, and appliances instead of buying new ones would save the average Oregon household $380 per year, which adds up to $649 million in savings across all Oregon households. 

As many Oregonians are struggling to make ends meet, this legislation is an opportunity to give people more choice on how to repair their devices, create pathways to saving consumers money, and reduce the harmful environmental impacts of our increased reliance on technology and the waste we create when we cannot repair,” said Rep. Courtney Neron (Wilsonville), a chief sponsor of the legislation.

Partly because repair and reuse is so difficult, Oregonians dispose of an estimated 4,800 cell phones every day. E-waste, the fastest growing waste stream in the world, deposits toxic heavy metals including lead, mercury, and cadmium into our landfills. With more repair, these materials will remain in use and reduce the need for new source material, manufacturing, and transportation of new devices. 

Not surprisingly, environmental groups strongly supported the bill. Since 85% of the energy and climate impact associated with a smartphone comes from manufacturing, it’s estimated that if all Oregonians extended the life of their phones by just one year, it would be the equivalent of removing 8,100 cars off the road in terms of climate emissions. 

“Oregon has a proud history of passing forward thinking policies that help Oregonians steward and respect the resources that go into making the products we use everyday,” said Celeste Meiffren-Swango, state director of Environment Oregon. “The Oregon legislature is building on that legacy by passing the Right to Repair Act today, and we look forward to Governor Kotek signing this important bill.”