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Failing the Fix
Nobody walks into an electronics store and thinks, “I’m going to buy something unfixable.” But how can you know which products will last, and which are too difficult or costly to repair and keep in use?
The prevalence of unfixable stuff is a problem for both consumers and the planet. Electronic waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world, and the U.S. EPA reports that it is now the fastest growing part of our domestic municipal waste stream. Americans spend nearly $1,500 on new electronics per household, per year – and could save a combined $40 billion if they were able to repair instead of replace products and extend the lifespans of their electronics by 50 percent.
In order to help consumers pick more repairable products, and to incentivize manufacturers to support repair, France has begun to require the posting of a repairability score for common electronics, such as laptops and cell phones. The information disclosed in these scores, especially when you look into the detailed breakdown of how the score was calculated, gives insight into what the repair challenges will be.
In order to grade manufacturers on their support for repair and Right to Repair, U.S. PIRG Education Fund, with assistance from iFixit.com, has accumulated French repair scores across 187 devices from 10 prominent manufacturers. Because repairing products is dependent on your ability to get access to necessary repair materials, our grade also reflects companies’ records of lobbying against Right to Repair, or membership in associations which are prominent Right to Repair opponents.
Consumers who seek to purchase easily repairable products – especially from companies who do not fight to prevent Right to Repair – can use these grades as a starting point for making those evaluations. Additionally, an analysis of which manufacturers scored higher or lower on which repairability criteria, such as parts pricing or repair documentation, can help consumers understand what repair challenges they might encounter with a given product – and also help manufacturers best address their repair shortcomings.
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