In October 2021, Microsoft agreed to start making its Surface devices more repairable and promised it would fund an independent study to find how the environment could benefit from the right to repair movement.
Since then, the company partnered with iFixit allowing more users to access tools and information for self-repairs, released a Surface repair video, and enabled third-party locations to fix specific hardware products. Microsoft also said it’d share the results of that Right to Repair study in May of 2022, and just as promised, we now have the results.
While we all know the right to repair our own smartphones, laptops, tablets, tractors, and more makes sense for consumers, a big talking point is about the effects on the environment. This week, Microsoft delivered the results of its independently funded repair study in a press release and to sites like WindowsCentral, and so far, the results are very promising.
Throughout the comprehensive 11-page document, it’s clear that the right to repair has a massive positive impact on the environment. It stated that repairing a device is drastically better than replacing one and that reducing greenhouse gas emissions and waste is better throughout every aspect of the repair process. This includes the physical materials and shipping products to be repaired.
The report mentioned several obvious areas where repairs are more beneficial than replacing devices.
Here are some key findings from the report:
- For the seven devices studied, the study showed that repairing the product instead of device replacement can yield up to a 92% reduction in potential waste generation and GHG emissions.
- Greater than 20% of the net sustainability benefits of repair are determined by the transportation method and logistics for delivering devices to repair facilities.
- “Mail-to” repair services offer the lowest GHG emissions, even over long distances, compared to other transportation methods, such as consumers driving their own vehicles to repair facilities.
I don’t know about you, but that first one is a pretty significant number. Suggesting that repairing popular devices like a PC, Surface laptop, or Xbox rather than replacing them can yield upwards of a 92% reduction in waste.
It sounds like mailing devices to Authorized Service Providers (ASP) have the lowest overall greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) impact. Hopefully, that means the company will make that an effort in the future.
Microsoft will continue to improve its efforts in this area. It will balance the fine line between cutting edge new products, and releasing stylish designs, while still making products that users can quickly repair.
In closing, Microsoft said all future products are being designed with repairability in mind, and there will be no “zero regression” between generations. This means that future products should all offer better repairability than previous models. We’ll have to wait and see what this means for future product designs and its partnership with iFixit, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.