Microsoft Plans to go the Zero-Waste Way By 2030

Microsoft announced that it is targeting on carrying out its operations in a manner such that there would be no trash generation by 2030. It also plans on banning the usage of single-use plastics within its packaging material by 2025.

The company would be setting up “Circular Centers” in a bid to achieve its zero-waste goal. These centers would be set up in a manner such that about 90% of the company’s waste would be reused and recycled within its site premises only. It means that there would be no requirement of third-party recyclers. One of the major items that would be getting recycled within the company are the servers found in Microsoft data centers. The company has also vowed that its manufacturing processes won’t be generating any waste. However, there is no such assumption that Microsoft’s suppliers too would be treading on the zero-waste path. 

The previous year, Microsoft’s huge office complexes had generated a large amount of waste, out of which approximately about 3189 metric tons of waste went to the scrap heap. As per Microsoft’s latest oath, during the next decade, this waste should be zero. However, the garbage generated from Microsoft’s office is still a smaller issue than the e-waste coming from the devices produced by Microsoft and many other such firms. A report generated in July states that a whopping 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste was generated by these gadgets in 2019, thanks to people using them in large numbers. And this count is expected to tread on the higher side. Microsoft’s zero-waste goal may not have much of an impact on e-waste generation, as the company says that it is not responsible for whatever happens to its products once it is sold.

Scott Cassel, the founder of the nonprofit Product Stewardship Institute, stated in an interview that was taken post the release of the global e-waste report that “Electronics companies do a great job of designing for pleasure and efficiency, but the rapid change in consumer demand also means that they’re designed for obsolescence. So today’s newest, the coolest product becomes tomorrow’s junk.” Cassel and the other advocates have asked electronic firms to develop their products so that they would last longer. 

US PIRG, another advocacy group, has blamed Microsoft for halting the “right to repair” laws. The existence of this law would prompt organizations to release information regarding their products, thereby permitting consumers to carry out repairs on their own or through third-parties. Lawyers who support the “right to repair” laws feel that this would ensure that the products would be running and not wasted, thereby preventing them from reaching the landfills. 

Microsoft claims that its zero-waste goal has no impact on its decision regarding “right to repair” laws, and nothing would change in that matter. However, its latest laptop models-Surface Laptop and Surface Pro X have been designed such that they are much easier to repair and fix when compared to the previous models. 

Brian Janous, Microsoft’s general manager of energy and sustainability, went on to say that “We are committed to increasing the repairability of our products, but also try to balance other aspects such as safety, and durability, and of course — probably most importantly for us — privacy and security.” He further added, “This is our first step in a journey. There’s going to be a lot more to come as we learn more about how we can influence that waste lifecycle.”

The zero-waste goal is the second environment-friendly initiative pledged by Microsoft. In January this year, Microsoft had stated that it is aiming to be carbon-free by 2030. The tech-giant had announced that it intends to remove more and more greenhouse gases from the atmosphere it generates by 2030. It also plans to bring down all the carbon dioxide emissions caused by its operations by 2030.

Image source: TheVerge

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