California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the nation’s most sweeping electronics device repair legislation, SB 244, into law on Tuesday. Under the bill, manufacturers will be required to facilitate the repair of covered consumer electronics – including computers – by making certain tools and parts available to consumers and repair shops for at least seven years after production. The bill was supported by Apple and HP, yet opposed by device manufacturer trade associations, including the Consumer Technology Association.
In 2023 alone, 30 states introduced right-to-repair legislation for consumer electronics, farm equipment, or other products. California is now the third state with a consumer electronics repair law, following Minnesota and New York, and all three repair laws will be effective by 2024. A fourth law, specific to tractor repair, was also signed into law in Colorado earlier this year.
Right-to-repair laws represent a growing regulatory and reputational risk to companies with a large electronic waste footprint, especially consumer electronic manufacturers.
In 2021, As You Sow filed a resolution with Microsoft urging action on the growing right-to-repair movement, later withdrawn after the company agreed to publish a plan to initiate new repair mechanisms for consumers. Following the agreement, Microsoft published a report in 2022 and has taken new actions to improve repairability, including Xbox consoles.
“California is the home of technological innovation and the nation’s most populous state. With the passage of a consumer electronics device repair law here, right-to-repair laws are poised to gain momentum in other states,” said Kelly McBee, circular economy senior coordinator at As You Sow. “Device manufacturers must mitigate regulatory and reputational risk by expediting product redesign for longevity and repairability, providing parts, tools, and repair instructions in all markets, and extending support for current and future device repair legislation, just as Apple has done in California.”