Microsoft finds that right to repair offers greater environmental benefits for devices

As You Sow has stated that Microsoft will work to implement the findings into its own right to repair initiative

Back in October, Microsoft agreed to develop plans for improving its repair offering, following a shareholder resolution filed by not-for-profit As You Sow. The resolution argued that Microsoft “actively restricts consumer access to device repairability, undermining sustainability commitments”. It also warned that, with the rise of right-to-repair legislation in geographies including the UK and EU, it is only a matter of time before Microsoft’s largest market, the US, follows suit.

In response, Microsoft confirmed it will explore measures to improve access to repair services, improve repair instructions and make parts available for longer. It will also produce a report outlining the business case for repair, including environmental, social and economic benefits.

As part of that response, Microsoft agreed to publish an independent study to assess the environmental benefits and impacts of “right to repair” initiatives. That study has now been published this week.

The independent study was carried out by Oakdene Hollins and examined key devices offered by Microsoft.

The study found that across seven device categories, repairing instead of replacing offered around a 92% reduction in emissions and waste generation.

It also found that more than 20% of the “net sustainability benefits”, such as reduced waste and emissions, come from reduced logistics and transports. Indeed, “mail-to” repair services offered the lowest on emissions, compared to consumers having to drive to repair facilities.

As You Sow has stated that Microsoft will work to implement the findings into its own right to repair initiative.

“Microsoft has communicated that these findings have been embraced throughout the company, which is laudable, and signifies that successful implementation is more likely,” As You Sow’s program coordinator Kelly McBee said

“Just one year ago we were hearing a different message from the company on device repair and now, with the release and adoption of these study findings, the company is demonstrating important action to leverage device repair as a significant mechanism for meeting its climate goals.”

Microsoft is working towards carbon negativity by 2030. Announced in January 2020, that target entails delivering a 50% reduction in emissions across the business and supply chain. Removal and offsetting will be used to cover an amount of carbon greater than the remaining 50%.

Then, by 2050, Microsoft is aiming to remove the equivalent of all the emissions generated across the firm’s lifetime, since it was founded in 1975. Climeworks has been announced as the first carbon removal business to be supported by Microsoft as part of the delivery of its 2030 and 2050 targets.

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