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We always think outside the packaging

See how committed we are to environmentally friendly packaging and product recycling.

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 analysis.

Worldwide recycling of consumer eWaste by Microsoft (recycled kilograms)

Check out how our recycling practices continue trending upward.

Chart showing our increase in eWaste recycling
In 2006. 1362569kg
In 2007. 2403449kg
In 2008. 4257328kg
In 2009. 4799879kg
In 2010. 5219465kg
In 2011. 5877858kg
In 2012. 6001759kg
In 2013. 8021652kg
In 2014. 9302664kg
In 2015. 9931492kg

Learn more about where to recycle your Microsoft products

Details about energy efficiency, packaging, and the end-of-life process

We work to improve the energy-saving features throughout our product portfolio, including energy-efficient chargers, to help our customers save energy.

Electronic devices inevitably require the consumption of energy. Microsoft is committed to reducing the direct effects caused by the energy consumption of our products.

At Microsoft, we also believe technology has tremendous potential to address environmental challenges. In FY15, SCS sponsored a report, the SMARTer 2030 Report, in partnership with the Corporate, External, and Legal Affairs (CELA) group. The report was released at the Bonn Climate Change Conference by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI). Endorsed by the European Union Commission and the United Nations, the report emphatically affirms the positive role that information and communications technology (ICT) can play in achieving a more sustainable world.

While historically economic growth has been accompanied by increased carbon emissions, the report identifies ICT as a way to grow sustainably. ICT can enable a 20 percent reduction of global CO₂ emissions by 2030, effectively holding global emissions at current levels and potentially decoupling growth from climate impact. At the same time, ICT could generate more than $11 trillion in sustainable benefits.

To enhance the positive role that ICT can play, Device Supply Chain has partnered with hardware product development to lessen our product’s energy consumption during their use. Microsoft Surface Pro 4, ENERGY STAR–certified and registered with EPEAT, demonstrates that a powerful fully functional computer can operate using no more energy than less functional tablets on the market.

All energy associated with your device, from its manufacture through your use and recycling of it, are considered in our life cycle analysis.

We work to improve the energy-saving features throughout our product portfolio, including energy-efficient chargers, to help our customers save energy. Small steps make a big difference. All our devices come with power-saving standby settings, and our Lumia smartphones have a battery-saving feature. We have also introduced applications, features, and technologies (e.g., ambient light sensors, efficient Snapdragon™ processors, and OLED or AMOLED displays) to save energy.

Energy consumed by consoles

An important part of our business strategy includes reducing the energy consumed by consoles within a generation while maintaining the same level of gaming power. For example, since the launch of Xbox 360 in 2005, our engineering teams have successfully reduced standby power by a factor of 10 to less than three-tenths of a watt, resulting in a 60 percent reduction in energy use. Our development and compliance engineers ensure all our products meet regulatory requirements such as the EU’s energy-related product directive.

Carrying lessons learned from Xbox 360 forward, we continued our commitment to reduce energy usage through the design of Xbox One, launched in 2013. Xbox One provides eight to 10 times the processing power of Xbox 360. Despite this significant increase, the electrical power required for gaming is 30 percent less than that of its predecessor when it launched in 2005. Power needed for media play and dashboard is half that of the Xbox 360 at launch. The increase in efficiency results from scalable processor architecture that wasn’t available for the Xbox 360. Other efficiencies are gained by providing the user with choices about console functionality while in standby mode.

In 2009, game consoles were identified by the European Commission as a “priority product group” to be covered either by regulation or a self-regulatory initiative to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We have been working with other console manufacturers to develop responsible requirements to achieve that goal. The resulting initiative is in the form of a design specification for Xbox 360 and Xbox One. In other words, our current products comply fully with the requirements in the initiative. This voluntary agreement is a joint commitment by the manufacturers, which is estimated to deliver collective energy savings in the EU of 1 TWh per year by 2020. This corresponds to the annual electricity consumption for more than 250,000 households. On April 22, 2015, the European Commission confirmed the voluntary agreement would achieve the policy objectives set out by the EU's Ecodesign Directive more quickly and cost-effectively than mandatory requirements.

Distribution

Our strategy to contain our carbon footprint and improve environmental sustainability extends to the distribution of our products where we prioritize moving away from air transportation toward more carbon-efficient ocean and rail transportation when possible. In 2014, Device Supply Chain became a certified SmartWay® Transport Partner with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). SmartWay® is a public-private initiative involving the EPA, carriers, logistics companies, and manufacturers. The purpose is improving fuel efficiency and environmental performance of supply chains, and accelerating availability and adoption of advanced fuel-efficient technologies and operational practices. This certification will allow us to continue improving the energy and environmental efficiency of freight operations. In addition, the work we do to lessen the size and weight of our products and increase the efficiency of our packaging enables us to both ship more efficiently and improve the sustainability of our products.

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.

Please remember this when recycling.

Appropriate collection and recycling is essential. We are working globally to make recycling options more accessible.

According to the reports in relation to the EU WEEE Directive, two-thirds of eWaste disappears into nonofficial disposal channels where it may be either sold or disposed of as part of general waste.

We encourage you to responsibly recycle your electronics and packaging. Please find Microsoft-sponsored recycling opportunities in your area that allow you to recycle your hardware for free. If a recycling solution is not yet listed, please contact your local city/municipal office, your household waste disposal service, or email us.

Learn more here.

U.S. voluntary recycling programs

We offer two types of free voluntary recycling programs. These voluntary take-back and recycling programs are here to make recycling easier and more convenient for you.

By mail in the United States

You can visit our recycle hardware page, send an email to weee@microsoft.com, or call (866) 217-7329 and we will generate a postage-paid elabel for return to our recycling partner.

Consumer electronics devices trade-in and recycling

Microsoft Stores offer trade-in and recycling of electronic devices turned in by consumers. Learn more at www.microsoftstore.com/recycle.

Overhead view of someone drawing with a tablet

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