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Groups urge Google to extend life of Chromebooks in schools

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Chromebooks helped get Illinois students through the pandemic, but a pending so-called “death date” on the devices is looming.

The Illinois Parent Teacher Association has joined the Public Interest Research Group in asking Google to extend the life of 13 Chromebook models whose software will expire in less than three months.

Thirty-six organizations, including the U.S.-based Consumer Reports, National Stewardship Action Council and Environment America and international organizations such as the Greek Consumers’ Association and the Restart Project signed the letter to Google.

“We really shouldn’t be throwing away computers that are functional just because they’ve reached an expiration date,” said Lucas Gutterman, Designed to Last director with PIRG. “Ultimately we think all of these Chromebooks should last a lot longer but a good first step that Google could take is to extend the lifespan of these 13 models that are expiring.”

Gutterman adds in addition to helping the environment, extending the life of the devices would save taxpayers a lot of money.

“Our report found that if Google were to double the life of Chromebooks in use it could actually save Illinois taxpayers $68 million and it would really reduce the carbon emissions that it takes to make these devices in the first place as well,” Gutterman told The Center Square.

Nationwide, the PIRG report found for the over 48 million K-12 public school students, doubling the life would save $1.8 billion, assuming no additional maintenance costs.

School districts were a major reason why Chromebook sales skyrocketed in the latter part of 2020.

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

“In the United States, we generate about 6.9 million tons of e-waste each year, which is equivalent to throwing out 120 Chromebooks every second. We can’t afford to keep replacing technology at this rate,” the letter stated.

A message from The Center Square to Google seeking response wasn’t immediately returned.

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