Apple and The Right to Repair

Inside an iPhone 6s

The Huffington Post ran a story late last week accusing Apple of actively lobbying against so-called “right to repair” legislation in two of the four states where it has been proposed.

Right to repair is an organized movement, currently seeking to be recognized by law in Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska and New York. The official website makes the following pitch:

“When manufacturers own the only repair shop around, prices go up and quality goes down. Competition is better for customers, but mom and pop repair shops are struggling with unfair practices by multinational corporations. Consumers and repair pros are starting to fight back.”

Lawmakers in the aforementioned states like the idea because it could potentially reduce the vast amounts of electronics waste generated by consumer electronics. Apple says it helps recycle millions of pounds of such waste each year, yet it has actively campaigned against right to repair.

Reached by HuffPost, Apple repeatedly pointed to its 2016 Environmental Report as a means to underscore its commitments to a greener planet. In that report, Apple says it works with 160 recycling programs around the world and says it holds them to “rigorous standards of environmental compliance, health and safety, and social responsibility.” But it did not elaborate on those standards after HuffPost brought up a recent report from the Basel Action Network, a nonprofit environmental watchdog group, indicating that even some “responsible” recyclers in the United States had gone back on their word and handled e-waste inappropriately.

In other words, we don’t know for certain how Apple makes recycling programs adhere to its standards, and that doesn’t even matter if your iPhone winds up at a recycling program unaffiliated with the company.

Apple also said it does not comment on pending legislation, as these right to repair amendments are. HuffPost pressed further, pointing out that Apple’s lobbying costs are public record and that it seemed odd that a company so committed to going green wouldn’t support legislation that could help reduce e-waste. Apple would not provide an official statement, though a representative said there are no numbers indicating that its products contribute to an e-waste problem.

For the whole story, see the links directly below.

Sources: Huffington Post via Slashdot, The Repair Association

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