In a Thursday email, Google VP John Solomon told PIRG’s Lucas Gutterman, “For Chromebooks already in use, and released prior to 2021, users and IT admins will have the option to extend today’s 8 years of automatic updates for an additional two years – so 10 years total from the platform’s release. For all Chromebooks released since 2021 onwards – users will automatically get 10 years of updates, without having to do anything.”
Many schools are buying way more laptops than they used to, to ensure that every student has a device to use in class and at home. It would be one thing if kids could use the same laptop for their entire education. But currently, Chromebooks have a built-in “death date.” After as few as four years, Google stops updating the software – rendering the laptop useless.
To stop this Chromebook Churn, over 10,000 supporters signed a petition, joining a coalition of nonprofits, parents and teachers asking Google for longer-lasting laptops. Thursday’s announcement is a victory for all of us. Once laptops have a lifespan of 10 years, fewer will “expire” and need to be disposed of.
Green Century °, founded by the PIRG network, also engaged Alphabet and has been working on this issue for about six months.
“We believe this is a major win for the environment, schools, and the shareholder advocacy process,” said Douglass Guernsey, a shareholder advocate at Green Century Capital Management. “By extending the life of Chromebooks commonly used in schools, Alphabet is getting ahead of addressing potential risks and making sure hardware using its software can be used for as long as possible.”
Since 2021, Green Century has previously engaged Alphabet on improving repairability of its Pixel phones and disclosing details of the company’s carbon offsets. Both previous engagements resulted in changes from management to address environmental concerns.
Google and other tech companies should continue to find ways to stop the disposability treadmill that pressures us to replace our phones and laptops in favor of newer models. With e-waste the fastest growing waste-stream in the U.S., it’s not sustainable to consume technology at this rate.
Longer-lasting Chromebooks are a meaningful step toward the tech industry making products designed to last.
Tomorrow, I hope you’ll continue to support us in our campaign to stop e-waste. Today, let’s celebrate progress.
°Green Century Capital Management, Inc. (Green Century) is the investment advisor to the Green Century Funds (the Funds).
Director, Designed to Last Campaign, PIRG
Lucas leads PIRG’s Designed to Last campaign, fighting against planned obsolescence and e-waste and winning concrete policy changes that extend electronic consumer product lifespans, hold manufacturers accountable for forcing upgrades or disposal, and advance paradigm-busting conversations around electronic products. He got his start as a PIRG student volunteer and organizing director where he helped register thousands of voters and win zero waste campaigns to stop plastic pollution. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his partner, where he enjoys perfecting his espresso recipe.