BERKELEY, CA— In response to a resolution filed by shareholder representative As You Sow, which encouraged Microsoft to respond to the growing “right to repair” movement — the company has agreed to increase consumers’ options to repair their devices by the end of 2022.
“This is an encouraging step by Microsoft to respond to the upswell of federal and state activity in the right to repair movement,” said Kelly McBee, waste program coordinator at As You Sow. “Excitingly, this agreement will begin to allow consumers to repair their Microsoft devices outside the limited network of authorized repair shops.”
Reparability is a key tenet of a circular economy. By disrupting the traditional take-make-dispose model, 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 the upstream mining and refining toxins and emissions and downstream landfill pollution.
This 2021 legislative season saw the first congressional bill on right to repair, in addition to bills introduced in more than half of all U.S. states. In May, the Federal Trade Commission issued a report to Congress determining that there is “scant evidence” to justify the restriction by companies of repair instructions, parts, and tools to a limited number of authorized establishments, as Microsoft has historically done.
In exchange for As You Sow’s withdrawal of its shareholder resolution, Microsoft will:
Complete a third-party study evaluating the environmental and social impacts associated with increasing consumer access to repair and determine new mechanisms to increase access to repair, including for Surface devices and Xbox consoles;
Expand the availability of certain parts and repair documentation beyond Microsoft’s Authorized Service Provider network; and
Initiate new mechanisms to enable and facilitate local repair options for consumers.
As You Sow’s resolution with Microsoft is the first known shareholder resolution relating to the right to repair movement. In recent months additional shareholder resolutions on right to repair have been filed with Apple and tractor manufacturer Deere & Co following President’s Biden executive order instructing the Federal Trade Commission to issue rules removing manufacturer restrictions on third party and do-it-yourself repair of tractors and cell phones.
“I applaud the sincerity that Microsoft brought to the table in negotiating this agreement and hope additional manufacturers follow suit,” concluded McBee. “Microsoft’s action demonstrates that the company recognizes that extending the lifetime of its devices through repair is essential to meeting its climate goals and that the company is serious about taking action to do so.”