Our approach to the product life cycle

The people and organizations we empower inspire innovation from start to finish. That’s why Microsoft is reducing our environmental footprint through sustainable packaging, scientific design, and industry partnerships. Our commitment can be seen across small things, like providing more customer resources online to reduce the use of paper, using more recycled and bio-based packaging materials, and clearly marking separable components. This commitment can also be seen across larger initiatives, like reducing our logistics and manufacturing footprint, sourcing raw materials responsibly, and harvesting and recycling the useful materials in our products to keep them out of landfills. And we’re constantly evaluating the impact these actions have through life cycle assessment.

Microsoft consumer eWaste recycling volumes
Kilograms (millions)

Device recycling

We manage the complexity of the return-and-recycle phase by partnering with contracted recycling partners, collection schemes, Microsoft stores, and OEM partners.

Our involvement

We belong to more than 150 producer responsibility organizations worldwide, covering used electronics, batteries, and packaging.

Environmental compliance

We comply with the EU Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment Directives (WEEE) requirements, and other applicable requirements everywhere we sell devices.

Decreasing our environmental footprint and our sustainability process


We have implemented an end-to-end (i-E2E) program management process for new product packaging designs.

The people and organizations we empower inspire innovation from start to finish. That’s why Microsoft is reducing our environmental footprint through sustainable packaging, scientific design, and industry partnerships.

Better productivity, better planet

We develop efficient and environmentally friendly packaging by implementing i-E2E program management. This robust data platform champions complete product development visibility, Microsoft environmental guidelines, and beautiful design.

Microsoft sustainable packaging design principles:
  • Eliminate environmentally unfavorable materials
  • Minimize packaging weight and materials
  • Increase use of recycled content
  • Design for end-of-life recycling materials, separable components, and clear material markings
  • Increase use of bio-based and other sustainable materials
  • Reduce logistics and packaging manufacturing footprint
  • Source raw materials responsibly
  • Evaluate product platforms’ overall environmental impact through life cycle analysis

A global promise to improve our world

Climate change demands global response, and Microsoft invests in initiatives to encourage our company, partners, and customers to go green. In March 2009, Microsoft signed the Australian Packaging Covenant (APC). As an original signatory member, we agreed to reduce the consumer packaging environmental impact by improving packaging design, recycling rates, and packaging stewardship. Microsoft has since expanded the APC to all global packaging programs.

In our last reporting year, 2014, we successfully met and exceeded several key performance indicators under the APC Action Plan.

Sustainable success

In 2015, as part of the APC action plan, we designed separable components, decreased our use of plastic packaging materials, and reduced non-recyclable consumer packaging materials.

On average, 70 percent of the paperboard we use contains recycled content, and plastics make up less than 4 percent of total packaging materials.

Do more with less

Microsoft’s paper-first design principles empower our mobile-first, cloud-first world; reduce or eliminate our use of plastics; increase sustainable sourcing; optimize packaging size and weight; and encourage recycling. In 2015, we grew paper-first design principles, which include using less paper and reducing package documentation like user manuals, and providing more online resources than ever before.

Climate change is no match for creative collaboration

Environmental packaging is more than a supply chain — for Microsoft, it’s a value chain that respects our customers and our climate. In 2015, we developed sustainability scorecards using earlier package versions and previous reporting periods to benchmark, understand, and improve every new design. That same year, we launched an engineering and design partnership to develop new packaging standards. Through this “One Microsoft” initiative, we are harmonizing packaging designs to reduce environmental impact across product lines by at least 7 percent on our scorecard.

This is just the beginning

Microsoft is looking for new ways to integrate sustainability into our packaging to offer the most powerful protection with the least environmental impact. We continue to research and improve our emphasis on recycled and certified-virgin fibers, move manual content online, and build projects of passion like lightweight rigid-board packaging.

We are committed to the recovery and recycling of the useful materials in our products, and to keeping them out of landfills at the end of their life cycle.

Learn more about where to recycle your Microsoft products

We manage the complexity of the return and recycle phase by partnering with recycling organizations, joining forces with collection schemes, and working with Microsoft stores and our OEM partners to facilitate the return and end-of-life management process. Our Refurbished PC Program gives new life to PCs, which helps communities around the world. Millions of PCs and all types of consumer end-of-life electronics are being refurbished and reused through this network.

We belong to numerous producer responsibility organizations worldwide, covering electronics, batteries, and packaging. We comply with the EU Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment Directive’s (WEEE) requirements, and other applicable requirements in every market where we sell devices.

The asset recovery and recycling partners directly contracted by Microsoft must meet our specifications as stated in the Supplier Conformance Standards for End-of-Life Management of Electrical and Electronic Equipment and Waste Materials. This includes, but is not limited to:
  • Maintaining all necessary certifications, including but not limited to R2, RIOS, e-Steward or equivalent
  • Obtaining, holding, and maintaining valid accreditations of the following:
ISO 14001 Environmental Management
ISO 9001 Quality Management
OHSAS 18001 Health and Safety Management

  • Complying with all applicable international and national laws including laws pertaining to the transboundary movement of hazardous waste (Basel Treaty), U.S. Export Administration Regulations, and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations
  • Selecting and auditing subcontractors that process the resulting materials to the Microsoft requirements

The materials in your devices can be used to make new products or generate energy.

Battery compliance

Microsoft complies with global battery marking, substance restriction, consumer information, and transportation and recycling requirements, including those mandated by the EU Battery Directive. Additional information is available about battery recycling and transportation requirements for Microsoft products containing lithium ion batteries.

Packaging compliance

Microsoft designs its hardware and software packaging to meet global requirements. Microsoft uses specifications and testing to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including compliance with the EU’s Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste as amended, CEN packaging standards (EN 13427:2005), and United States Toxics in Packaging legislation. Packaging for Microsoft products meets heavy metal restrictions, labeling, and essential requirements regarding packaging optimization, manufacturing, composition, and recovery and reuse set by applicable standards.

Hardware compliance with recycling regulations

Microsoft has taken the following approach to comply with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive for its covered products (electrical and electronic equipment, or “EEE”):
  • Microsoft, where applicable, registers with national authorities in accordance with the requirements of each member state and the EU for Microsoft products subject to the WEEE Directive and reports data to such member states as required by the directive.
  • Microsoft pays fees in each member state to cover the WEEE management costs of its covered EEE.
  • Microsoft provides information to reuse centers, treatment, and recycling facilities regarding Microsoft EEE as required by each member state and the WEEE Directive. For more information, please contact Microsoft.
  • Microsoft products are designed to promote recycling, reuse, and proper waste management.
  • Microsoft products are labeled or stamped with the WEEE marking as shown below in accordance with European Standard EN 50419.

Important information for generators of WEEE from private households:

WEEE from private households is defined as WEEE generated by private households as well as commercial, industrial, institutional, and other sources that, because of their nature and quantity, are similar to WEEE from private households.
  • WEEE from private households is defined as WEEE generated by private households as well as commercial, industrial, institutional, and other sources that, because of their nature and quantity, are similar to WEEE from private households.
  • The presence of the WEEE mark (shown above) indicates generators of WEEE from private households are responsible for properly disposing of covered products. Marked products must not be disposed as a part of household waste. They must be returned to a designated collection point for their dismantling, recycling, and/or reuse. In some cases, WEEE-marked products can be returned to their place of purchase.
  • The proper disposal of WEEE by households will conserve natural resources (through reuse and recycling), and protect the environment and human health through proper disposal.
  • In some cases, your city, municipality, or member state may take enforcement action for improper disposal of WEEE.
  • For more information regarding WEEE disposal options, please contact your local waste agency, municipal office, retail store where you purchased the covered Microsoft product, and/or your waste management service, or visit your country’s government website.