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Restart Radio: Repairing in school and Apple’s “zero waste”

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Janet and Ugo talk with Estefania Suquilanda, who is introducing repair into a school in New York City. We then discuss Apple’s recent claims on being zero waste and the Right to Repair movement in California.

We are very interested in spreading the culture of repair from an early age, so it was great to hear about Estef’s work. She is the current Tech Support Specialist at The Hewitt School, a girls’ school in New York City, where she is inspiring secondary school students to gain hard skills fixing devices. Meeting once a week after school hours, her Restart students seem to be learning very rapidly.

Just the other day, they impressively fixed an iPhone 7+ screen in about 45 minutes!

Estef also tells us about her background, which is actually in professional electronics repair. She shares some thoughts on her experience as a female technician and about the small shop where she used to fix Apple products.

bracelets made of keyboard keys
Estef and her primary school students made bracelets reusing keys from broken keyboards for last St. Valentine’s Day. Estef implies that reuse can be a “gateway” to repair.

We then stick to Apple to discuss their recent advert, where they state that their iPhone is assembled in facilities that send “zero waste to landfills”. Going through their 2018 report on Supplier Responsibility, we find that this claim is based on their “Zero Waste to Landfill” certification by global company UL, but it is strictly limited to waste produced in its assembly facilities – that is, where all the product components get fitted together. Now, how much waste is being produced before assembly?

Apple may be leading the way into a more sustainable manufacturing compared to the other big companies, however if they want to claim absolute zero waste products, they should be transparent about their whole supply chain, for instance about the manufacturing process of components, processing of raw materials and mining.

Lastly, we comment on Apple’s attack on DIY repairs, and whether this is incompatible with a claim of “zero waste”. The US ‘Right to Repair’ campaign, which after successfully getting legislation introduced in other states now arrives in California, is pretty much at the doorstep of the big companies like Apple or Google. The Right to Repair bill is lobbying for making repair information and tools accessible to consumers. Companies may well be interested in providing repair services, however this initiative is speaking for people to have their right to repair their devices themselves.

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[Feature image by Hewitt School – Twitter]

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