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Extending the life of Chromebooks could save taxpayers $68 million, groups say

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(The Center Square) – In the wake of a letter the Illinois Parent Teacher Association sent to Google asking for the company to extend the life of 13 Chromebooks, a public advocacy group said some of the models ended up for sale online.

The Public Interest Research Group along with 36 organizations signed a letter sent to Google asking the company to extend the expiration date on the devices.

“We want to teach students how to have a sustainable relationship with technology, where they gain digital literacy while also understanding how to take care of technology and avoid being wasteful. Chromebooks need to last longer and become easier to repair,” the letter said.

PIRG noted that several of the Chromebooks appeared on Amazon, with some listed as new, even though the Automatic Update Expiration was approaching.

“That means that an unsuspecting shopper, doing some back-to-school shopping for a laptop for their kid could end up buying a laptop that shows up on their doorstep and has already lost support, even though they spent $550 on the laptop that was listed as new, so that is completely outrageous,” Designed to Last Director with PIRG, Lucas Gutterman, told The Center Square.

An April report by PIRG, “Chromebook Churn,” found that many schools purchased the laptops when they were forced to switch to remote learning after Gov. J.B. Pritzker closed down schools during the pandemic. PIRG reports that if Google doubled the life of Chromebooks in Illinois, it would save schools and taxpayers $68 million.

When technology like Chromebooks reach their expiration date, the PIRG report said about one-third of the electronic waste is properly recycled.

“Google should restore updates to these laptops that still work,” said Gutterman. “They should also act to extend support for the 51 models expiring next summer to save schools money and prevent e-waste.”

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