Post-modernism has created a throwaway society which squanders nonrenewable resources. In attempt to alleviate this, society turned to recycling. However, this attempt has not proven cost-effective and has led to dumping recyclables on nations such as China and the Philippines who have now started to refuse more waste product. Recycling as an overriding paradigm needs to change to building durable repairable goods; this can be accomplished through collaboration between national, state, and local governments in tandem with the private sector; doing so helps the environment and the economic health of America.
Recycling is largely broken as a constructive paradigm. Cross-contamination of potentially recyclable products and products that simply cannot be recycled combined with the costs of mining raw resources being less than recycling has resulted in this being less desirable than once thought. For example, China’s 2018 Sword Policy has banned plastics and other less than pure waste product. In those that will accept this waste, 20 to 70 percent of the intended recyclables are discarded, contributing to pollution and health risk. A tremendous amount of waste is being wasted (Cho, 2020).
Developing a domestic program of recycling is one best bad idea. But another better idea is a combination of environmental and economic policy relying on the cooperative federalism in which national and state governments collaborate mixing responsibilities to incubate free market innovation with the necessity of meeting a new standard in environmental protection (Kraft & Furlong, 2018). This era’s increased polarization makes it hard to lock in on the tools of cooperation and policy gridlock is more the norm than the exception (Kraft & Furlong, 2018). Yet, despite all of the errors of Marxism, Karl Marx was insightful of at least the dynamic innovation that drives the capitalist engine (Roth, 2018). In this lies an answer that aids in reducing the consumption of non-renewables while stimulating the economy as well. This is to return to higher standards with respect to quality of goods manufactured which are then more easily repairable rather than disposed of after the planned obsolescence period expires.
The right to repair is an issue that is being fought for at least in the United States and the European Union. In many instances be it automobiles, electronics and other equipment products, corporations are claiming proprietary rights as a vehicle of controlling access to repairs. This in turn impacts the secondary used markets and results from the wrong interpretation of copyright law. Legislation in the EU and America’s national and state levels seeks equal access to repair documentation, diagnostics, tools, service parts and firmware. This keeps these components and equipment serviceable longer. This reduces natural resource consumption and the carbon emissions used in manufacturing and transporting these items from source point to consumers. This touches on economic policy, energy policy, environmental policy and foreign policy simultaneously.
Three factors shape public policy in support of manufacturing more durable components and products that are more readily repairable. Political factors shaping this public policy include the desirability of returning manufacturing back to American shores and the governance of contractual law on international, national and local levels are important to forming the right to repair protections. Other political factors are conceptions of governmental mandates (Kraft & Furlong, 2018, p. 240) and consumer privacy (Cleland & Hauenschild, 2017). Among the social factors right to repair policy is the right to tinker and resulting innovation (Masayuki, 2020). A significant economic factor shaping this policy is the rising cost of living causing difficulty for many to meet their daily basic requirements (Montello, 2020). Durable goods with an uncontested right to repair would increase opportunities for increasing the savings rate. This is particularly pertinent in that the federal poverty line purportedly inadequately reflects the cost of living in America (Kraft & Furlong, 2018, p. 174).
The move in support of the right to repair has substantial support. It is not seeking a new right but the restoration of what was fundamental in society. It is supported in over half the states in the United States and by the European Union as a basic economic and social right with deeply positive implications for the environment. This sense of taking back the collaboration between international, nation, state and localities for the benefit of the involved citizens is right and just.
With recycling increasingly failing to live up to its conception and no longer viable, what part do you think returning to producing more durable, long lasting and repairable products on every level should play in creating and developing a sustainable future for the United States and the world?
Cho, R. (2020, Mach 13). Recycling in the U.S. is broken. How do we fix it? Columbia Climate School. Recycling in the U.S. Is Broken. How Do We Fix It? (columbia.edu)
Cleland, B. & Hauenschild, J. (2017, March 13). Right to repair policies are government mandates and will jeopardize consumer privacy. The American Legislative Exchange Council. Right to Repair Policies are Government Mandates and will Jeopardize Consumer Privacy – American Legislative Exchange Council (alec.org)
Masayuki H. (2020). The Right to Repair, the Right to Tinker, and the Right to Innovate. Annals of Business Administrative Science, 19(4), 143–157. https://doi.org/10.7880/abas.0200604a
Kraft, M & Furlong, S (2018) Public Policy: Politics, Analysis, and Alternatives. (6th Edition.) Purdue University Global Bookshelf (vitalsource.com))
Montello, S. K. (2020). The Right to Repair and the Corporate Stranglehold over the Consumer: Profits over People. Tulane Journal of Technology & Intellectual Property, 22, 165–184.
Roth, R. (2018). Concepts in examining the legacy of Karl Marx. European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, 25(5), 756–782. https://doi.org/10.1080/09672567.2018.1524504