Microsoft criticized as recycling advocate Eric Lundgren begins a 15-month prison sentence for duplicating software meant to keep PCs running.
On June 14, U.S. PIRG’s Nathan Proctor delivered more than 11,000 petitions to Microsoft offices, calling for greater accountability for electronic waste disposal and easier access to the tools and information needed to repair products. Recycling innovator Eric Lundgren also spoke out in his last appearance before reporting to federal prison for copying Dell restore discs, software meant to help fix old computers and is free to download.
Photo by Ricky Osborne for U.S. PIRG
Companies have gotten too aggressive at pushing us to throw things away and buy new things. What we should be doing instead is reusing more, repairing more, and recycling the rest — ideas that Eric Lundgren has been championing. The thousands of Americans who signed our petition hope that Microsoft, one of the most important tech companies, can make repairing and recycling part of their everyday business.
At the event, Mr. Lundgren said: “I hope I’m the last person to have to lose their freedom for helping people fix old computers. But I might not be, unless people stand up for the right to repair. I am hoping that my case raises awareness about e-waste — and I am encouraged by the thousands of people who have spoken out.”
Eric Lundgren. Photo by Ricky Osborne for U.S. PIRG.
Lundgren’s case has stirred up criticism regarding Microsoft’s actions and raised additional scrutiny of the other ways that Microsoft makes it difficult for people to reuse its products: lobbying against Right to Repair laws; violating warranty regulations by attempting to forbid independent repair in warranty clauses and “void warranty if removed” stickers; and making several products which are notoriously difficult (if not impossible) to repair.
As the 11,000 signatures demonstrate, consumers are increasingly aware of the waste created by the technology industry, which often puts product sales before the responsible disposal and refurbishment of products. In 2016, 44.7 million metric tons of e-waste were generated worldwide and only 15 to 20 percent of that was recycled. E-waste production is estimated to grow by 8 percent each year.
Lundgren’s work in electronic recycling and curbing the growth of e-waste has placed him at the forefront of the right to repair movement. His California based company recycles 41 million pounds of e-waste annually.
By repairing products instead of buying new ones — and helping others do the same — Lundgren is working to change a system that feeds on consumption and fills our country with abandoned electronics. More of us need to stand up for the right to repair.
U.S. PIRG is also backing Right to Repair reforms in states across the country which would require manufacturers to make repair tools, parts and service information available.
Find out more about our campaign here.
Senior Director, Campaign for the Right to Repair, PIRG
Nathan leads U.S. PIRG’s Right to Repair campaign, working to pass legislation that will prevent companies from blocking consumers’ ability to fix their own electronics. Nathan lives in Arlington, Massachusetts, with his wife and two children.