Nevada Organizations Support ‘Right to Repair’ Bill to Lower Barriers to Affordable Electronics Repair

The push comes alongside a national effort to rethink the electronics market

CARSON CITY — Today, nine Nevad advocacy groups sent a letter to members of the Nevada Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee urging their support of a ‘Right to Repair’ bill to lower unnecessary barriers to affordable electronics repair for Nevadans. The bill, AB 221, introduced by Assemblywoman Selena Torres, would require manufacturers selling consumer electronics products priced between $100 and $5,000 to make the mechanisms necessary to repair these devices and price them reasonably.

Organizations emphasized that opening up the electronics repair economy could have broad implications for the environment, the local economy, and Nevadans’ pocketbooks. 

“Electronic waste is a growing problem in this country that poses a number of threats to our community, and is particularly resonant in our frontline mining communities that sacrifice so much for resources that are being treated as disposable,” said Environment Nevada State Director Levi Kamolnick. 

“The right-to-repair bill is an important step to moving us to a circular economy that maintains still useful technology and reduces demand for highly environmentally destructive and community disruptiv extraction of raw materials,” said John Hadder, Director of Great Basin Resource Watch.

“The environmental community is beginning to coalesce around this important issue. Americans throw away hundreds of thousands of electronic devices every single day, putting unsustainable pressure on the mining industry to produce more and more raw materials for our electronic devices,” said Paul Selberg, Executive Director of the Nevada Conservation League. “Electronic waste is often toxic, dangerous, and expensive to process – polluting our soil, water, and air. The time to start building a truly sustainable economy has come, and there is no more integral factor than the right to repair.” 

“Electronics repairability is a broader issue than most people would think,” said Annette Magnus, Executive Director of Battle Born Progress “Just about every time you buy a new piece of electronics equipment, chances are that it was manufactured overseas, but when you fix that same product, chances are that it was fixed locally, with local labor. By denying access to repairability these companies are denying Nevadans jobs that they desperately need right now.” 

“The move toward a tech-based economy has brought a lot of prosperity to a very small number of people in this country,” said Assemblywoman Selena Torres. “But that’s not to say the benefits aren’t within reach of the broader public. Constituents in my district want the ability to repair these products, which for many families are a significant expense. The jobs and consumer-savings this bill would bring are too real not to take it seriously.” 

The ‘repair movement’ has gained momentum nationwide. Similar legislation to the ‘Right to Repair’ bill has been introduced in 25 state legislatures this year.

A copy of this letter can be found here and below. 

March 25, 2021

Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee

401 South Carson Street, Room 4108

Carson, City, Nevada 89701

RE: Lowering Unnecessary Barriers to Affordable Electronics Repair 

On behalf of 9 state-based organizations, we urge you to support AB221, which requires that Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) who sell consumer electronics products priced between $100 and $5,000 make the repair essentials necessary to repair these products be made available at a fair and reasonable price to all interested in purchasing them.

The Right-to-Repair movement is a growing call from across the political spectrum to change the way we think about electronics repair. Following the passage of a state law in Massachusetts that requires automobile manufacturers to make the “repair essentials,” such as specialty, parts, tools, firmware, and diagrams available to customers and independent auto repair shops, advocates have been pushing for legislation that would open up other sectors of electronics products to the independent repair economy. By lowering the artificial barriers put in place by the tech industry, Nevadans can help consumers save money, cut down on electronic waste, create Nevada jobs, and reduce dependence on foreign labor.

America’s electronic waste, or e-waste, problem has been growing over the last few decades at an alarming rate. Americans dispose of nearly half-a-million cell phones every single day. Having the ability to repair devices is critical to keeping them out of landfills. Although most issues with consumer electronics products could be resolved easily and inexpensively, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) routinely obstruct the repair process. When the manufacturer or their “authorized” service providers are the only ones that can access spare parts, service instruction or repair software, they can overcharge for repairs at their locations and even refuse to conduct certain repairs, pushing customers to buy an upgrade. Although upgrades always sound good, forcing customers into them means adding unnecessary expenses and more toxic waste polluting our environment. 

More than just our ability to reuse our devices, Right to Repair would be an immense benefit to our local economy, still reeling from the devastating impacts of the pandemic. Each time consumers purchase new electronics they are almost always utilizing overseas labor, whereas each time consumers repair electronics they are almost always utilizing local labor. AB221 could transform Nevada into the repair capital of the nation, and give tourists another benefit of visiting Las Vegas. Although it’s hard to say exactly how many, we expect the jobs benefits to be substantial. Furthermore Right to Repair would support a stronger market for used and refurbished electronics that would give lower income families an alternative to pricey retail prices and help students gain access to educational tools like laptops and webcams. 

An additional environmental concern is the wasteful use of mined resources, many of which are mined in Nevada. Our state’s frontline mining communities are done a disservice when products made with these resources are treated as disposable. Furthermore, toxic heavy metals from e-waste make their way into our water sources through the runoff cycle and impose another unmitigated externality to consumers. Right to Repair would extend the lifetime of devices, create a viable market for used electronics, and reduce the need for constantly buying the newer, more expensive models. Adopting Right to Repair takes an important step for Nevada toward a more circular economy. 

Some manufacturers argue that monopoly control of repairs is somehow done to protect user’s data or security, but we disagree with their claims. A group of some of the leading information security experts in the country have examined their claims, and debunked them. Security is a function of data encryption, not repair control. Expert analysis on these issues can be found at SecuRepairs.org, and we can make security experts available as a resource if you have additional questions.  

Allowing small businesses to access repair essentials does not make manufacturers more vulnerable to intellectual property theft. The legislation brought forth in Nevada makes it clear that it in no way requires OEMs to divulge trade secrets. It would, however, open up the repair market to add local jobs and reduce toxic environmental waste in our communities.

For these reasons, we support passing AB221 and giving all Nevadans access to accessible, affordable repair. 

Signed,

Levi Kamolnick, State Director, Environment Nevada

Paul Selberg, Executive Director, Nevada Conservation League

Annette Magnus, Executive Director, Battle Born Progress

Dylan Sullivan, Senior Scientist, Climate & Clean Energy Program, Natural Resources Defense Council

Brian Beffort, Director, Sierra Club Toiyabe Chapter 

John Hadder, Executive Director, Great Basin Resource Watch

Cecia Alvarado, State Director, Mi Familia Vota Nevada 

Kyle Roerink, Executive Director, Great Basin water Network

Patrick Donnelly, State Director, Center for Biological Diversity 

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