Concretely, a grade out of 10 will be added to the labels of washing machines, laptops, smartphones, TVs and lawn mowers. This score will be calculated based on criteria such as: ease of disassembly, price and availability of spare parts and access to repair information.
No new market rule but a more informed consumer. I thought you guys would like this "free-market makes-best-decisions" gov lobbying.
Hope it won't end as the precedent: we got a "healthy-score" on most food products -which is great- but the cheese lobby put much effort to gets special rules as salt and fat would give them an awful grade 
We absolutely need BOTH to bring back small electronics repair shops (yes I know you can still find them but they're exceedingly rare compared to 30 years ago).
It doesn’t behoove me to care about repairing any electronic worth less than $5k probably. Any decent brand lasts so long and the ratio of probability of failure to cost to replace is so low that it’s just not worth it.
When something breaks, the decision is to spend $x to fix versus $x+$y to buy new. I’m not buying electronics to last more than 10 years, the protocols and everything are going to change anyway. I might as well buy new and get an update rather than fix old and be stuck with old tech.
High value purchases on the other hand make sense, since a few thousand dollar fix for a $30k to $50k car might be worth it compared to buying another $30k to $50k car.
And the crops need to come off this week or we loose $2.5M but the company says ship it to Kansas city for repair so we can upload the new software...
Reparability includes design that enables troubleshooting.
For example: Run the "$x to fix versus $x+$y" on a non-functional fridge. A fridge designed for repair might have a thumb-screw panel for access to the logic board with clearly labeled test pads for fuse continuity. This (or other, similar repair-friendly designs) would allow you to more easily determine the value of "x" and more accurately assess whether "x" is small enough to make repair the more viable option.
When things are glued together, you generally have to break them apart, which contaminates different types of materials making recycling significantly more difficult.
Maybe I'm just being too optimistic but I don't know how human society continues down the path of pulling raw materials out of the ground, turning it into a "device" which is then just thrown away. There is a finite amount of material on the planet, and most of the things we're throwing away end up quite toxic when buried indefinitely. I won't have to worry about it, or my grandchildren, or maybe even 5 generations from now, but it's a question of when, not if.
Yeah I know it is overused but it is not difficult to imagine a "Uber for repairs".
At least I would hope the french scores / standards would be objective enough to be useful.
if california had a "cancer scale" or something it would be more useful than it is today. Maybe that lead paint is "grade a cancer" but your bed sheets are only a "grade d cancer" i dunno.
That said, something like a nutrition or privacy label might be a better fit. For example, if something has a battery, can it be replaced by the user or even replaced at all.
That was more around security of the devices, but I would like to see a label that covered 4 parameters
3. Openness / Cloud Dependency / etc
I love "give the consumer the tools to make their own decision" solution.
The little bit of .gov lobbying that inevitably sneaks in anyway will create an opening for savvy consumers to save money by buying things that punch above their score (we already have this kind of thing for appliance energy ratings) or by researching scores and figuring out that something is actually highly repairable if you don't mind buying the service literature off some sketchy site you had to use Google Translate on.
At least on Android there's no real vendor lock-in so defecting from "unrepairable" phones will let you eat some portion of competition sales.
Just curious, from who?
iFixIt scored the current MacBook Pro design a "1", and the current MacBook Air design a "3".
The problem I foresee with this is that the label can only capture information accurate at the time of purchase. By the time you need to repair, probably a few years down the line, and possibly with a different owner, how accurate would that information be? How useful is it to consumers in this case?
"Our new report finds massive cost savings from repair."
No shit. That's why that used to be the norm. Until some predators-in-training paid Congress to destroy those businesses. And now we need to struggle? to get back what was once obvious and common sense?? Throw-away culture is a disease.
If you looked inside a TV now, you'd see mostly surface mount components, and molded plastic armatures.
There's just not as much to repair anymore, things either work or they don't. I'm not saying it's good or bad, I'm saying there was no conspiracy to drive repair shops out of business, just a general switch to more reliable (yes, more reliable) electronics, which happen to also be less repairable.
White goods are a different story, things like washing machines have been built in an increasingly cynical fashion.
Why not both?
People legitimately think that repairing something means to just replace it. People think this.
But, realistically it will probably mean that Apple gets some sort of “temporary” thing in place that lets them circumvent the law until such point that they do the bare minimum to be able to convince lawmakers that “See? We’re doing good. Certainly you can change the law just a little so that we’re allowed to do that. Right?”
I wouldn't be surprised if the laws couldn't be adhered by Apple by simply enhancing their repair certification/support process.
That or, possibly more ominous, if John Deere/Apple could simply make a brute force effort to have judiciary overturn the laws when they're challenged in court.
I've had to open a Surface that wasn't booting to recover data from the SSD and the adhesive on the screen was so strong I had to snap pieces of glass off with a screwdriver to get to it. Even the photos in the iFixit guide showed fractures in the screen. Heat guns only get you so far with some of these glues, and solvents can damage the plastics.
They also often buy up proprietary access to caps, ICs, and other mainboard components so none are available to the 3rd party market. Independent computer repair shops have to tear down old (non-serialized) machines or rely on parts from questionable origin to even be able to attempt repair.
* designs that have to be cracked open with a significant chance of damage
* glue or seals that can't easily be undone/redone
* hard to get replacement parts
* software lockouts
* permanently locked bootloaders even when they stop getting security patches
Most of them are placing a burdern on the Manufacturer of the products to release tools, documentations, parts, etc that allow independent repair, this type of right to repair would not in anyway be in conflict with DMCA, as DMCA allows manufacturers to release tools to "circumvent" their own production, what is illegal is a 3rd party releasing a tool with out manufacture/copyright holder agreement
Most state level right to repair laws say "Fine if you want to sell a device that does not allow for independent repair you product is not welcome in this state"
Thus no conflict with DMCA
There's still a lot of wiggle-room in there - Apple, for example, could argue that they're fine with "repair" being for things like replacing "dumb" iPhone components like the display and battery, but because the T2 security chip is an encapsulated, irreducible, atomic, component of the phone that being non-repairable is a design feature as that's how it protects the user's private data (and Apple's DRM...) they shouldn't be legally compelled to release the details of the T2 chip.
You could probably cover a big chunk of the most common repairs without having to crack open or tamper with Apple's proprietary software like the T2.
That alone would be a huge win for the right to repair movement.
Some products are just too difficult to repair, or just pointless to repair past a certain age as they become obsolete (like a phone). But they can be safely and cost effectively be recycled in bulk.
Repairing stuff is an expert dedicating 30 minutes or more (often more) to your gadget. (sometimes that expert might be you yourself - it still remains true).
In the same time, factory drones can produce hundreds of the same gadget.
Naturally, the time of the expert is much more expensive than simply buying a new gadget.
This "right to repair" is romanticized nonsense, like the idea of everybody growing their own food.
Not that I don't like the idea of being able to repair my own things. I even think one should try occasionally, just so that one doesn't become totally stupid.
But to claim it is somehow a common good and betterment of society is nonsense. The opposite is true. Devices will now become more expensive for everybody, because companies have to jump through hoops to make them repairable, even though hardly anybody will actually repair them.
If you want to tinker, or grow your own food, get a Raspberry Pi or a little tomato plant for your balcony
Also, if you are worried about the environment, perhaps recycling laws make more sense, or more specifically, producers being responsible for the proper disposal of their devices. Would have to consider the upsides and downsides, though.
The problem is that the manufacturing of electronic devices has a lot of impact on our planet because of the required resources both in terms of energy and precious metals, and because of the growing pile of e-waste, and none of this is priced into our cheap gadgets.
Repairable devices means devices that live longer, which means less environmental impact, there’s nothing romantic about that.
From an environmental perspective, repair is also preferable to recycling, because reuse tends to be much less resource intensive than recycling.
And I think you are wrong about the economics of repairing vs recycling.
In both cases, it also depends on the market demand.
If people want to repair their stuff so much, why don't any companies come forward with repairable products? Some do (Fairphone, I guess), but it doesn't seem to be a huge success.
In any case, anybody who really wanted to could see to buying only repairable things. What is the point in offering people who don't want to to do the same?
I think people just want the same iPhone they have now, with additional "repairale" property. That is not going to happen. The repairable iPhone will be thicker and less elegant than the non-repairable iPhone (compare iPhone to Fiarphone). And suddenly people are not buying it anymore.
You're going from one extreme to the other. You could for example require Apple to provide access to their spare parts supply chain (replacement batteries, screens, maybe some key ICs that regularly fail, etc.) to independent repair shops. This would greatly increase the repairability and decrease electronics waste. Right now, many repairs aren't possible simply because you can't find parts, or because customs will block your parts from entering the US, or even because Apple has decided that only they can have the tools to pair a new home button with your current device.
> Repairable devices means devices that live longer,
Is there proof of this for tiny devices with tons of integrated chips and processors requiring specialized equipment and knowledge to fix?
> Is there proof of this for tiny devices with tons of integrated chips and processors requiring specialized equipment and knowledge to fix?
Well, you could say that when a device breaks, it will either get discarded or repaired, so repairability can only be a net positive. It's debatable whether repairability will actually prolong the lifespan for things like headphones, where everything is tiny and will wear down eventually, and monitors, where most of the money goes into an irreparable LCD panel anyway.
I'm convinced, though, that phones and notebooks are expensive and "modular" enough that repairs with proper replacement part availability would be cost-effective.
Attaching a fantasy requirement to real world constraints serves no purpose.
Reducing population does attain the goal of reducing consumption. Reducing people’s ability to take honeymoons to Tahiti reduces consumption. Reducing people’s ability to drive large vehicles to take the kids to school and go shopping for groceries reduces consumption. Reducing people’s ability to live far away from everything, which in turn reduces the amount of energy needed to push all the mass around needed to live far away from everything also reduces consumption.
There is no free lunch.
> I'm convinced, though, that phones and notebooks are expensive and "modular" enough that repairs with proper replacement part availability would be cost-effective.
Are they modular? As far as I understand, everything is getting more and more integrated. Also, compared to the cost of buying new, the cost of labor to fix my MacBook Air or iPhone is far too high where I live. Perhaps if taxes were sufficiently high to make a new laptop or phone more costly to purchase to offset the pollution, then it would make sense.
Making products last longer, maybe by forcing repairability, is a more constructive solution that would allow people to have their gadgets while lessening the negative effects of manufacturing them/disposing of them.
Though the problem is that the issues of unrepairability are moving into high cost professional equipment. Consumers maybe are not willing to repair themselves or pay for repair, because indeed the consumer level devices are relatively cheap and labour is expensive, though it may not be the case on professional equipment or devices.
Your 1000$ professional printer's head dried with ink? Buy whole new printer.
Error from your's 500 000$ tractor's ECU - only a dealer can fix this, which may take months, but you have a one week window for harvesting.
A <cheap device> broke on your car. It costs 50$ in your nearest salvage yard, but you __must__ flash a firmware to match your exact car at dealer for 500$, because only dealers can do it.
This whole "efficiency of industralization" will start to fall apart when industries will start blocking other industries. Farming is super efficient these days - couple of guys with couple of tractors or other farming equipment, will harvest enough food in a week that will eventually feed hundreds of thousands of people. If their super efficient tractor equipment will fail during tight windows of harvest and their equipment provider will say "fuck you" - that whole harvest can be spoiled.
Also, right to repair generally includes right to modify and customize, e.g. flash your own firmware or so on.
It seems to me that the things you consider facts don't actually line up with real-world evidence.
I have nothing against people buying such things, if that property is important to them. Just don't force it on everybody.
I used to work in an automobile assembly plant, and even in the plant it is much better to build the vehicle correctly the first time than it is to repair it. On the assembly line, every thing takes one minute or less (ish, depending on line rate). The alternator is bolted to the engine in a minute . The transmission is bolted to the engine in a minute. The doors go on the car in a minute. etc etc. Very few things take longer than a minute. Meanwhile, if you have to change an engine, the first time you know you will have to change it is at the end of the line, when the vehicle is completely assembled, and it takes several hours to remove and replace the engine. In fact, often times the engine is removed at the end of the line, then the vehicle is sent back down the line to meet up with a freshly assembled engine!
So yes, first time production is much, much more time efficient than repair - BUT - Repair and maintenance is a design goal just like any other design goal. Manufacturers care about it some because of warranty costs and resale value and reputation.
Consumers asking for more attention to be paid to those design goals is completely reasonable to me. Unfortunately there is no strong signal of repairability at the time of purchase; whereas there is a strong signal of cost, feature set, and initial quality; thus manufacturers concentrate on those design features (among others, like safety and other legal requirements)
0. The alternator person will also have some other tasks like starting some bolts for the next person down the line. The point is that no single step takes longer than a minute. The very few steps that do take longer than a minute are remarkable and you will see things like the line splitting into two, or the 4 of the same process cell working round robin on cars as they go down the line.
This signal need not exist, because the superseding signal of “is this device worth fixing” precludes it. For some things, the cost to fix is not low enough compared to the cost to buy new.
For a car, the cost to fix is low enough compared to the cost to buy new. For a a household electronic device, the cost to fix is not low enough.
Props to Cory, for, as usual, calibrating us & driving us towards some very common very basic sense.
Yeah, those iPhones and MacBooks are such shit, really. What a hellish world to live in.
We have created proprietary knowledge, proprietary systems, that are massively popular, ubiquotously used, that none of us are allowed to nor can understand or learn about.
I am in awe, have huge respect for the hight heights of this high technology that we have arisen towards. But, for the first time, it feels like it is captivated wonder. And unlike something complex like a train or airplane, this high tech is deeply deeply fundamental to our everyday life, reshapes our reality immensely. And it is a hell, forever boiling & changing around us, that we can not see, can not understand, have no access to, no ability to learn about these deeply propietary bits of tech that are all around us, that we spend so much time enmeshed in.
It is a philosophical violation of the spirit of humankind, of the highest order.
Even if you Mac is somehow "locked", you can still take an electron microscope to its mainboard and try to understand the circuits and so on. (In theory - in practice, I've just read a modern Ryzen chip consists of billions of transistors, so good luck trying to reverse engineer it).
Pretty much do not have people show up and a whole lot can be ordered.
I personally didn't dare to try to repair my washing machine or dishwashers (beyond cleaning clogged pipes), although I know people who do.
The point of the right to repair bills is that the useful life of products can be extended through repair. So I guess some people who are always buying new replacements and upgrades would be less likely to need those repairs as many repairs happen later in a product's life.
I've fixed my washer and dryer before. Even just simple things like replacing the belts or resetting the thermal OL switch can be done by anyone, no qualification needed.
Do these laws take everything repairable into consideration? Last I read, farmers were getting bent over by their farming equipment makers.
Not sure why you think that it is argument against regulation.
So sure, go ahead and repair your pool pump controller yourself. But be prepared to have it get moisture in the case, have all the contacts turn black and become a wad of worthless corrosion.