We wanted to share an update from As You Sow’s progressive work on corporate waste and resource efficiency. As You Sow, a partner organization of Blue Summit, focuses on shareholder advocacy. Their mission is getting the largest corporations to make meaningful changes. The original story can be seen on their website here.
In a move to bolster the growing “right to repair” movement intended to extend the life of consumer electronics, shareholder activist group As You Sow has filed a shareholder resolution requesting that Microsoft analyze the environmental and social benefits of making its devices more easily repairable through measures such as the public provision of tools, parts, and repair instructions.
“We’ve seen shareholder resolutions become a significant tool for climate activists,” Kerry Sheehan, the U.S. policy director at the repair guide site iFixit. “We’re seeing it get adopted in the repair context as well in part because these are very connected.”
“Microsoft positions itself as a leader on climate and the environment, yet facilitates premature landfilling of its devices by restricting consumer access to device reparability,” said Kelly McBee, waste program coordinator at As You Sow. “To take genuine action on sustainability and ease pressure on extraction of limited resources including precious metals, the company must extend the useful life of its devices by facilitating widespread access to repair.”
Reparability is a key tenet of a circular economy, wherein the traditional take-make-dispose model is disrupted, new resource extraction is minimized, and existing resources are kept in perpetual use. Electronics are the fastest growing waste stream in the world, and nearly 70% of the emissions associated with personal computing devices arise during production.
Extending device lifespan through repair can help mitigate both the upstream mining and refining toxins and emissions and downstream landfill pollution.
Recently, federal legislation was introduced which, if passed, would require Microsoft and other companies to make diagnostic repair information, parts, and tools readily available to small businesses and consumers.
“For Microsoft to authentically pursue its commitment to be carbon negative by 2030, it must make it easier for consumers to repair their device than to buy a new one,” said McBee. “An important first step will be the company considering the public provision of repair tools, parts, and instructions, as this resolution and current federal legislation outline.”