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A Word About Recycling with Ollie Maier

Sunday, December 8, 2019

With Christmas coming, which often brings toys for children that need to be assembled, this article in a Resource Recycling newsletter caught my eye.

Reason being; although I am somewhat mechanical minded, for some of my children and grand-children, my assembly of some of their toys was a real challenge. Sometimes just getting the plastic wrapping off them would almost make me lose the Christmas spirit.

The newsletter article addressed the capability of many do-it-yourself citizens to repair items rather than discarding them and getting replacements. Unfortunately, some manufactures are not willing to supply any information on how to repair or have available the necessary parts to repair. Some also require a special tool.

“Twenty states officially filed variants of Right to Repair legislation in 2019," the article said. "No bills have received a vote yet — which is normal and expected, given how hard it is to get all but the most trivial of bills passed.”

As mentioned, none of these bills have passed yet. However, a recent poll showed 90% of consumers would like to be able to repair some of the items that become unusable instead of throwing them away or hopefully putting some in the recycle bin so not to be a total waste.

Thus, it is believed passage of at least one of these bills is inevitable. And, it is felt if just one bill becomes law, the dominoes effect will take place and others will become law quickly thereafter.

If this Right to Repair does become law, it would require product manufacturers to make available the information, tools and parts that allow consumers and independent shops to repair the things they own. This includes, among other things, consumer electronics and farm equipment.

Although none of the bills have passed yet, some legislators are ready to again introduce such bills in 2020. I find the Right to Repair remains solidly non-partisan, as proven by the wide variety of politicians who have found common cause on this issue.

They realize having the Right to Repair will not only help cut down on many still repairable items from going to the landfill, but they will also create local jobs and allow many talented citizens to repair such products their own.

In knowing this, one would wonder what is holding up the passage of these bills. One of the reasons is it takes time to overcome the FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) some legislators have. Fortunately, as more legislatures become aware to the benefits of the Right to Repair, FUD tends to backfire.

Such bills were close to passage in Washington, California, Illinois and Nebraska among others. But opposition stopped them. For example, in the farming states, John Deere was in opposition to passage as they didn’t want farmers to repair the John Deere farm equipment they owned. With my growing up on a farm, I think this is really a bummer.

I also found the Right to Repair bills in New York and Minnesota had gotten to their legislative floor at the end of their sessions but ran out of time to be passed. Let’s hope this isn’t the case in 2020.

Incidentally, the Right to Repair momentum is also growing at the federal and international levels. It is being looked at in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. So, for all you talented people who like to repair your things as needed, my wife and I will continue to pray for our leaders to have the wisdom to do what is right in this and other matters.

Till next week, do have a great one...

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Ollie is a local citizen concerned with the environment and helping others. A retired Air Force fighter and instructor pilot, he is a graduate of Leadership San Marcos and received his degrees at Texas State University where he worked on staff before totally retiring. For questions or comments, he invites you to call him at 512-353-7432 or email omaier@txstate.edu.

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