Environment Colorado survey makes case for Right to Repair cell phones law

Author: Joey Bunch - February 9, 2018 - Updated: February 12, 2018

cell phones(Photo by Sgt. Christopher M. Gaylord via Wikimedia Commons)

As Apple users continue to fume about throttled batteries, Environment Colorado is making a case for a Right to Repair law for phones in the state.

“We should be free to fix our stuff. People are resourceful, they can find ways to fix things and keep them from going to waste, ending up as pollution in a landfill,” Garrett Garner-Wells, director of Environment Colorado, said in a statement. “But the first thing we need to repair are our laws.”

When the environmental organization dialed on the issue by surveying repair shops and other sources, it found Coloradans dispose of 6,600 cell phones a day. Colorado contributes to a waste stream of 141 million cell phones tossed out nationally eat year.

The environmental group notes that Colorado isn’t among the 18 states that are considering or have passed “Right to Repair” or “Fair Repair” laws for phones, however.

“Repair is good for the environment,” Garner-Wells said. “Fixing something instead of throwing it away to buy something new reduces needless waste. Repair should also be the easier and more affordable choice but companies use their power to make things harder to repair. This survey shows that people are clearly looking for more options to repair their phones.”

Among the report’s other findings:

  • A survey of 164 independent repair businesses nationally reported a 37 percent increase in weekly battery replacement service requests since Dec. 20.
  • Traffic from Colorado residents for “iPhone battery repair instructions” went up 159 percent — 3,546 people from Colorado viewed instructions between Dec. 20 and Jan. 22.

To read more about the report, click here.

Apple has weathered a PR nightmare since it was exposed in December that the company intentionally slows down phones, presumably to save the batteries, but critics suspect throttling is really meant to coax people into buying new phones.

“These companies go to extraordinary lengths to keep people from repairing their devices,” executive director Gay Gordon-Byrne said in a statement provided by Environment Colorado. “They glue parts to the casing so they can’t be removed, they refuse to sell replacement parts, they digitally lock devices to prevent third party repair.

“Apple is telling some people they can’t fix their batteries until April. Certainly, there are people with easily fixable phones who will get new ones instead of waiting. Why won’t they just sell their original batteries to other repair businesses? This problem would be over in a few days.”

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.