The U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund is urging Google to allow Chromebook owners a right to repair the devices and extend their life span, reducing e-waste and saving money for schools in Georgia and across the country.
With 31.8 million Chromebooks sold in 2020, many of which were distributed to schools during the pandemic, many of the devices are approaching expiration and will soon stop receiving updates.
Lucas Gutterman, Designed to Last campaign director for the group, said to prevent the loss of working devices, they are calling on Google to double the life expectancy of Chromebooks, an effort which could save Georgia schools millions of dollars.
“Our report actually found that doubling the life of Chromebook from four to eight years could save schools in Georgia $63 million and cut carbon emission equivalent to taking 32,000 cars off the road a year,” Gutterman explained.
Gutterman warned as operating system expiration dates approach, Chromebooks will become a dangerous form of e-waste. Studies have shown e-waste accounts for more than 70% of toxic material in our waste stream, causing cancer, fertility problems, developmental delays and other health risks.
According to a survey conducted last year by the National Consortium for School Networking in 2022, many schools have implemented a one-to-one program, providing each student with their own device.
However, Gutterman highlighted the potential loss of security access for the laptops could result in schools losing access to critical sites.
“Chromebooks have an expiration date after that date has passed,” Gutterman pointed out. “Even though the laptop might be working perfectly fine, you can’t access state testing websites, other secure websites and, for a lot of schools, that laptop is not really going to meet their needs.”
In addition to saving schools money, the report estimated across the 48.1 million K-12 public school students in the U.S., doubling the life span of Chromebooks could result in $1.8 billion dollars in savings for taxpayers, assuming no additional maintenance costs.
This story was written by Shanteya Hudson, a producer at Public News Service, where this story first appeared.