Right to Repair Testimony

Georgians Throw Away 12,000 Cell Phones a Day
For Immediate Release

Today the Georgia Legislature heard the GA Right to Repair Law in subcommittee. Environment Georgia's Director, Jennette Gayer offered the following testimony.

"I’m here to express support for the Right to Repair Act because we can and should reduce waste by making it easier to repair our own stuff. Let me give you a few facts that I feel underscore the problem, and the absurdity of continuing to allow barriers to repair:

  • Electronic waste, or E-waste, is the fastest growing waste stream in the world according a recent U.N. report. The EPA estimated that in 2014, approximately 416,000 mobile phones were thrown out each day in this country. If you break that down per capita, that means Georgia throws away some 12,000 cell phones every day.

  • E-waste contains toxic materials. It’s estimated that 40% of the heavy metals in U.S. landfills come from discarded electronics, according to EPEAT, a green electronic rating system.

  • Unfortunately, e-waste is very difficult to recycle. Only 12.5% of e-waste is recycled, according to the EPA. We simply have too much to process, and processing this waste is very expensive and puts a burden on local communities that repair could reduce.

  • And by far the largest environmental impact of consumer electronics is in manufacturing, not use. For example, 81% of a desktop computer’s energy use is in making it, and only 19% in using it.

By far the easiest, cheapest way to address these problems is to keep these products in use when we can, and there are numerous people in our communities who are glad to do that work.

We are only asking for a little help to solve this problem for ourselves, with the ingenuity and pluck of Georgians. Frankly, there just isn’t a good reason why we can’t be allowed to fix our own stuff.

Most of the opposition arguments you will hear today boil down to the idea that we can’t be trusted to fix our own stuff, or hire the repair technician of our choice -- that it’s too risky and dangerous if we had that freedom to choose.

But the loss of that freedom means that only the companies who sell our products can decide what to fix and what to charge, and the result is we are left with a growing environmental burden, to be passed onto local budgets and future generations.

Thank you again for the opportunity to comment on this important legislation."