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Microsoft's Windows 10 support ending: Will obsolete PCs fuel a new wave of e-waste?

Microsoft's decision to end support for Windows 10 by October 2025 could result in a significant increase in electronic waste, with an estimated 240 million personal computers becoming obsolete.

Written By: Vishal Upadhyay New Delhi Published on: December 22, 2023 13:22 IST
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Microsoft's decision to stop supporting Windows 10 by October 2025 could lead to a surge in electronic waste, warns Canalys Research. An estimated 240 million personal computers might become obsolete, potentially contributing to a hefty 480 million-kilogram pile of electronic waste – equivalent to the weight of 320,000 cars.

Despite Potential Operation, Demand Drops

Even if these PCs can continue working after support ends, the demand for devices without security updates is expected to be low. Microsoft suggests providing security updates until October 2028, but at an undisclosed annual fee. Given historical trends, it might be more cost-effective for users to switch to newer PCs, possibly resulting in more discarded older computers.

Recycling Offers Hope

On a positive note, recycling technology advancements could help alleviate the environmental impact. Old hard drives from computers are being recycled to extract materials used in electric vehicle motors and renewable energy generation. Noveon Magnetics' Chief Commercial Officer, Peter Afiuny, highlights the potential of turning end-of-life computers into magnets that power sustainable technologies like electric vehicles and wind turbines.

Addressing Excess Material Waste

Afiuny points out that hard drives are often discarded before their functional life ends, leading to an excess of rare earth magnetic material waste. In the realm of battery recycling, Redwood Materials emphasizes the nearly infinite recyclability of batteries, enabling the recovery of metals like lithium, cobalt, nickel, and copper. This recycling process plays an important role in meeting the growing global demand for electricity and sustainable technologies.

Inputs from Reuters

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