Google Chromebooks expire too soon, saddling taxpayer-funded public schools with excessive expenses and inflicting unnecessary environmental damage, according to the US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund. The Register reports:

In a report on Tuesday, titled “Chromebook Churn,” US PIRG contends that Chromebooks don’t last as long as they should, because Google stops providing updates after five to eight years and because device repairability is hindered by the scarcity of spare parts and repair-thwarting designs. This planned obsolescence, the group claims, punishes the public and the world.

“The 31 million Chromebooks sold globally in the first year of the pandemic represent approximately 9 million tons of CO2e emissions,” the report says. “Doubling the life of just Chromebooks sold in 2020 could cut emissions equivalent to taking 900,000 cars off the road for a year, more than the number of cars registered in Mississippi.” The report says that excluding additional maintenance costs, longer lasting Chromebooks could save taxpayers as much as $1.8 billion dollars in hardware replacement expenses.

The US PIRG said it wants: Google to extend its ChromeOS update policy beyond current device expiration dates; hardware makers to make parts more available so their devices can be repaired; and hardware designs that enable easier part replacement and service. […] According to US PIRG, making an average laptop releases 580 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, amounting to 77 percent of the total carbon impact of the device during its lifetime. Thus, the 31 million Chromebooks sold during the first year of the pandemic represent about 8.9 million tons of CO2e emissions.

“We think that Google should extend the automatic update expiration to 10 years after launch date,” said Lucas Gutterman, who leads US PIRG’s Designed to Last campaign. “There’s just no reason why we should be throwing away a computer that still is otherwise functional just because it passes a certain date.”

“We’re asking Google to use their leadership among the OEMs to design the devices to last, to make some of the changes that we list, to have them be more easily repairable by actually producing spare parts that folks can buy at reasonable prices,” he added. “And to design with modularity and repair in mind, so that you can, for example, use the plastic bezel on one Chromebook on the next version, rather than having to buy a whole new set of spare parts just because a clip has changed.”