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Right to Repair vs Obsolescence Management – do they conflict?

In actual fact, The Right to Repair can go hand in hand with Obsolescence Management. Right to Repair seeks to ensure that consumers have access to necessary tools, raw materials, and replacement parts to repair their products, so the lifespan of a product can be extended. The Right to Repair movement came about to resolve the issue of individuals not being able to get their products fixed because the mentality of the large manufacturing companies is buy new instead of fixing what you have. The EU’s Right to Repair initiative reduces the impact of a throw away culture which has impact on the environment.

According to The World Counts website roughly only 12% of e-waste can be recycled or reused. Currently 85% of e-waste gets sent to landfills and incinerators which is burnt releasing harmful toxins into the air. Already the right to repair has reduced 17% of e-waste going to landfill with the hopes to cut carbon emissions produced by disposal of products.

The EPA estimates that discarded electronics accounted for around 2.37 million tons of waste in 2009 with around 1.77 tons ending up in landfills.
Obsolescence Management

Recent conversations about planned obsolescence often fall on deaf ears with businesses intentionally designing products with a limited lifespan, preventing repairs or upgrades. This stops products being repaired with the hope that individuals will purchase new products or better models. Manufacturing electrical products with short life-spans creates sustainability problems, large amounts of e-waste, high expenses, and environmental issues.

Even though the idea of right to repair and obsolescence management may seem totally at odds with one another there is common ground between the two. Using sustainable product design and extending the supply of raw materials including semiconductors work in extending product lifecycle times. Moreover, it’s not always possible for a repair to take place when the repair or spare parts become obsolete themselves. Luckily, there are companies specialised in solving obsolete problems which reduces the probability of having to buy new or businesses fully redesigning one of these being Force Technologies. There is always a potential for an electronic product to be fixed first or a solution found before going to landfill.