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For the last year Microsoft has been working with i-fixit, the online repair manual site, to develop and test a curriculum to help people start a small business offering repair services for mobile phone, tablets and laptops. The work was sponsored by our Registered Refurbisher Program, which already works with thousands of PC refurbishers to extend the life of Windows PCs. While good for business and the economy, there is a large environmental benefit from this work, especially when applied to mobile phones and tablets.
Devices like phones and tablets are often used intermittently by consumers. This, combined with their very low power consumption means they use relatively minimal electrical power over their lifetime. However, the process to manufacture these devices, which relies on raw materials and energy, is often a significantly larger amount of power consumption. Some studies have suggested that you would need to use a tablet or phone for tens of years before the usage footprint was larger than the manufacturing footprint. With this in mind, anything that can be done to extend the life of these smaller, low-power devices can have a positive environmental benefit.
By providing free online training for people to setup a phone, tablet or PC repair business, we hope to increase the reuse of these devices. But there is also a second environmental benefit from this future network. One study in the USA found that 62% of people said they have at least one unused mobile phone in their household. With mobile electronics containing valuable and often scarce resources, including copper, gold, lead, zinc, beryllium, tantalum, and coltan, they represent a large materials resource that can be “mined” by recycling them to help build the next generation of devices. The missing element, though, is a better collection system to compile these materials so they can be reused. Ideally, if more local people offer repair, refurbishment and recycling services, more of these valuable resources can be driven back into the production cycle, supporting the idea of a circular economy. In this type of system, everything we use gets reused and recycled, reducing our need for virgin raw materials.
I-fixit already has millions of visitors from around the world coming to their website to learn how to repair their own electronics. By sponsoring this repair business toolkit, we hope that some of the visitors may see this as an opportunity to create a green business for themselves, for their neighborhood, and for the planet. To learn more visit the Pro Tech Network blog at http://ifixit.org/blog/6634/pro-tech-network/
If Microsoft are so very green, why is your tablet the least repairable/recyclable device on the market?
I find it kind of suspicious with iFixit (which is the proper way to spell it) would partner with a company that has such a horrible record for user-serviceability.