Microsoft Finds Repair Reduces Carbon Emissions: Repair Roundup, Week of May 2

Microsoft Finds Repair Reduces Carbon Emissions: Repair Roundup, Week of May 2

A new Microsoft report shows that repair can substantially lower electronics' carbon emissions and waste.

Each week, we will bring you the top repair news from around the world, curated for iFixit by the folks over at the Fight to Repair blog.

The Big News:

Revelation in Redmond: Microsoft Finds Repair Reduces Carbon Emissions

Microsoft has come a long way since its Surface Pro 7 received a 1/10 repairability score from iFixit in 2019—eventually partnering up to offer repair tools for its Surface devices. It hasn’t had a perfect track record, however.

Microsoft received backlash this past summer from its shareholders who called on the tech giant to make devices more repairable. In response, the company enlisted an independent researcher to study how improving Microsoft’s repair practices can reduce 1) greenhouse gas emissions and 2) waste created from Microsoft devices. The report focuses on the two major areas in the company’s control: the design of its products, and its practices in repairing/refurbishing devices.

The report, released on April 22, has three major findings:

  1. Device repair offers significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emission and waste reduction benefits, regardless of whether the repair is performed in a factory or by an approved repair shop.
  2. Microsoft can bolster its repair ecosystem through device design, expanding spare part offerings, and localizing repair.
  3. Mail-in repairs look like the best option to date for reducing emissions associated with repair logistics (as long as they’re not by air freight).

Fast Facts

  • Repairing instead of replacing devices reduces the potential waste and greenhouse gas emissions by 92%
  • More than 20% of the sustainability benefits of repair are linked to how devices are transported to the repair provider.

A Caveat 

With the fate of our planet hanging in the balance, any reduction of GHG emissions and e-waste is a victory. But always be on the lookout for greenwashing. Despite the big headlines from Microsoft’s report, the company said it expects demand for repair to be low in the aggregate and emissions reductions from repair to be small, given the company’s giant environmental footprint.

Other News:

Sticking It To Russia? Good! Remotely Bricking Ag Equipment? Not So Much. :arrow_right: (Fight to Repair Blog)

News out of Ukraine about remotely disabled farm equipment is bad for Russia (and that’s good). It is also underscoring how agricultural OEMs like Deere keep farmers under their thumb. While the conflict in Ukraine is teaching us all kinds of new lessons about the world we live in, the incident with the Ukrainian Deere equipment has a lesson for us as a society, as well. Namely: that manufacturers like Deere exert tremendous control over the equipment and products they create. And that control extends well beyond the point of sale.

The Future of Electric Vehicles Is this 44 Year Old Pickup :arrow_right: (The Verge)

Ford is receiving praise for helping convert classic cars to electric. After selling out of its electric crate motor (running about $4,000 a pop), the internet is already showing the creative ways cars can be electrified. While classic cars are sometimes critiqued for their poor gas mileage and higher emissions, tricking out classic cars to be green seems like the best of both worlds—a vintage ride that’s environmentally friendly.

Pain in the Glass: Ford Launches ‘Certified Glass Network’ Focused on Use of OEM Procedures, Parts :arrow_right: (Repair Driven News)

Ford launched its Ford Certified Glass Network, which aims to incentivize repair shops using its parts on windshield repairs. It has cited safety concerns as the reason why it is promoting the use of its original parts and recalibration equipment, though shops will have to apply and pay up annually to become a part of the group. Repair advocates warn that OEM certified repair programs are often vehicles for revenue generation and vendor lock-in more than they are about promulgating best practices.

Why Fashion Hates Repair :arrow_right: (Vogue Business)

Fashion, particularly fast fashion, is an industry that creates a sizable environmental impact. While brands are beginning to embrace the resale of their products, they are much slower in warming to repair. The current business model supports replacing clothes over repairing them, and both customers and businesses see repair as costly and time-consuming. However, there are upsides for businesses when it comes to repair. While caring for products over the long-term subverts the current model of fashion companies to pursue growth above all else, there is potential for having a more intimate relationship with consumers as they become more attached to the items they are having repaired (just ask Patagonia).

Bonus: More Mixed Reviews on Apple’s Self-Repair Program