Our approach to product sustainability
At Microsoft, every device is made with a commitment to empower every person and every organization while minimizing the impact our operations and products may have on the environment. Every Microsoft device fulfills our strict environmental criteria which includes, but is not limited to, compliance with all applicable legal requirements. We also require that our global manufacturing partners and vendors follow stringent environmental practices with respect to their facilities, operations, and the products they manufacture for us.
Microsoft is an EPEAT® Participating Manufacturer. Surface Pro, Surface Book, Surface Studio, and Surface Laptop have all received an EPEAT Gold rating1. We are constantly working to make our products more sustainable. As the EPEAT requirements become more rigorous, our products and operations are also evolving to meet higher standards and will meet many of the new EPEAT requirements.
Life cycle thinking
We perform life cycle assessments (LCA) to calculate the environmental impact of our hardware products. These assessments help us identify the key stages in the product life cycle — for example, where the largest environmental impacts take place over the device life cycle — enabling us to minimize these impacts. We publish greenhouse gas emissions, primary energy consumption and material composition data for our products through our eco profiles.
The results of an LCA depend on the calculation method, scope, and assumptions used. Thus, assessments of different producers are not comparable even though general LCA standards are available. We use the ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 standards, complemented by ETSI TS 103 199 and ITU-T L.1410, as a framework for our calculations. Our LCA calculations include the entire life cycle, from raw material acquisition through end-of-life disposal.
Over time we evaluate different LCA methodologies, tools, and databases. As the LCAs, devices, and technologies are continuously evolving, our LCA results represent our best understanding at the time of publication and are revised as needed.
For our LCA calculations for Surface products, we assume that the products are in use for three years. In the calculations for Xbox consoles, we assume eight years of use. The use phase accounts for both active and idle time usage (for example, when the device is energized but not in active use). For the transportation phase, both inbound and outbound logistics are included. The recycling phase calculations cover activities up to and including shredding of materials. The environmental impacts of accessories and corporate overhead are not included in these LCAs.
The Microsoft Environmental Management System (EMS) is certified by an independent third party to meet the ISO 14001 standard, which is an internationally recognized framework that establishes a process for entities to manage and continuously improve their environmental performance. Microsoft also requires its contract manufacturers and suppliers of critical components to have an EMS in place.
The Microsoft Environmental Management System provides the framework to:
- Understand the external and internal issues affecting our purposes
- Identify the needs and expectations of relevant parties
- Address risk and opportunities
- Identify environmental aspects and evaluate their significance
- Establish objectives and programs for achieving environmental targets
- Maintain compliance with regulatory and other legal requirements
- Drive audits, management reviews, and continuous improvement
- Analyze data and processes for management of energy and water consumption, and waste
The goal is to reduce our most significant environmental impacts by taking into account risks and opportunities. Currently, our most significant impacts for the packaging and devices supply chain are:
- Product packaging design and disposal
- Sourcing of raw materials for manufacturing
- Energy use at office buildings and factories
- Carbon emissions related to both distribution of goods to market as well as employee travel and commuting
- Product end-of-life management
- Generation of nonhazardous waste (paper, recyclables, compostables)
Find out more in our Environmental Compliance Letter.
Questions? Ask the environmental compliance team (email@example.com)
1EPEAT Gold and Silver ratings in the U.S.