Earth Day 2023: Evolving Surface design
Published Apr 20 2023 06:00 PM 5,881 Views

As we observe and honor Earth Day on April 22, we're mindful of the importance of meeting our customers’ needs alongside responsible environmental stewardship. And here on the Surface team, we’re committed to producing devices with as little impact on the planet as possible. 


Our commitment to sustainability goes back years and has evolved into three pillars that help us contextualize our goals for Surface: reducing carbon impact, designing with circularity in mind, and having integrity built in. These elements make up the design language of every major product we launch.


Reducing carbon impact

Microsoft Surface devices are integral to achieving the company's commitment to be carbon negative by 2030. We're also delivering technology to help our customers measure and manage their Surface carbon emissions more effectively.


Launched earlier this year, the Surface Emissions Estimator is a tool that helps you calculate the carbon footprint of your Surface devices1. It provides an estimate of the carbon emissions associated with the production, use, and disposal of your device. You can use this tool to calculate the carbon footprint of your Surface devices by entering information about your device, such as its model, usage, and power settings. The calculator can even recommend ways of reducing your carbon footprint.


Surface Emissions Estimator.png

Sample results showing estimated carbon emissions for three devices


Ocean plastic

One of the more promising advances in device manufacturing is the use of ocean-bound plastic, recovered from plastic waste. First, it’s cleaned and processed into recycled plastic resin pellets and then blended in with virgin plastic during manufacturing.


Two years ago, we launched the Ocean Plastic Mouse with a shell made with 20% recycled ocean plastic, the first consumer electronics application of this material. Going beyond ocean-bound plastic (plastic collected within 50 km of shorelines), each mouse contains recycled resin derived from recycled water bottles taken directly from oceans, beaches, and waterways.



We’ve since carried this innovation to our newest accessory, Surface Thunderbolt 4 Dock for Business. The dock and power supply unit enclosures (excluding the AC cable) are attributed to 20% ocean-bound plastic2 and feature lighter materials than our previous docks. Single-use plastics have been removed from its packaging, making the packaging about 99% recyclable in OECD countries.3





Design for circularity

The traditional “take, make and waste” model of electronics is becoming unviable. That's why, at Surface, we design products with the circular economy in mind, meaning we follow a reduce, reuse and recover model.


By 2025, our goal is for our packaging to contain zero single-use plastics and by 2030 will be 100% recyclable. We continue to integrate innovations from our most recyclable products into the rest of our products. We also make recycling convenient and secure with global recycling programs and data-wiping.


Designing for circularity minimizes waste and extends the lifespan of our devices for as long as possible, thanks to a modular design that lets commercial customers replace parts rather than throw away their devices. Surface Pro 9, for example, comes with 14 modular components, including the display, hard drive, motherboard, and battery. 4


Integrity in manufacturing

Our design process focuses on building products of the highest craftsmanship with a responsible supply chain that meets higher ethical and environmental standards. Integrity also reflects our commitment to transparency on the impact of our products and supply chain, which is why we produce eco profiles for all our major devices. As the EPEAT requirements become more rigorous, our products and operations are evolving to meet more stringent standards. We plan for our products to meet the new EPEAT requirements at the Gold level.Surface registered products can be found on the EPEAT Registry.


Crafting for longevity is vital to long-term sustainability across all three focus areas, as it can reduce emissions and increase circularity by keeping materials in use for longer. It's why our latest Surface products are the most repairable devices in their product lines.


This is also where our material innovation can shine as we weave in recycled materials. You'll see it in our packaging, made of sustainably forested material that's 99% recyclable6 for Surface Laptop 5. We're also excited for our latest products to continue to bring hardware and software together to optimize energy performance. All Surface laptop and tablet devices are ENERGY STAR certified with a focus on energy efficiency and battery life. And our Surface Laptop 5 and Pro 9 devices are over twice as energy efficient as the Energy Star recommended limits. They can all also take advantage of new sustainability features in Windows 11, the first PC operating system to offer a carbon-aware feature.7  


Ready for a new device?

There are multiple ways to responsibly recycle your device or give it new life.

  • Trade it in: The Microsoft Store Trade-In Program8 offers cash back for certain used devices suitable for refurbishment or reuse. See
  • Sell or donate: Consider selling or donating your used device to an authorized refurbisher to give it a potential second life for a new user. See
  • Recycle: Microsoft and other device manufacturers offer free mail-back recycling programs for used devices. See


Learn more



1. Emissions Estimator report provided for informational purposes only. You should not interpret the report you receive to be a commitment on the part of Microsoft; actual emissions may vary based on your location, purchase method, usage, and other factors.

2. Ocean-bound plastic is plastic waste recovered from oceans and waterways, cleaned, and processed into recycled plastic resin pellets. These recycled pellets are blended in with virgin plastic during the manufacturing process. To learn more, see Sustainable Products & Solutions | Microsoft CSR.

3. In OECD countries, Microsoft operates recycling programs either independently or through third parties covering Microsoft Devices. In addition, check local recycling programs for availability.

4. Customer Replaceable Units (CRUs) are components available for purchase through your Surface Commercial Authorized Device Reseller. Components can be replaced on-site by a skilled technician following Microsoft’s Service Guide. Opening and/or repairing your device can present electric shock, fire and personal injury risks and other hazards. Use caution if undertaking do-it-yourself repairs. Device damage caused during repair will not be covered under Microsoft’s Hardware Warranty or protection plans. Components will be available shortly after initial launch; timing of availability varies by component and market.

5. EPEAT rating availability may differ by market.

6. Recyclability dependent on recycling options in markets where products are discarded.  Check local recycling programs for availability. Learn more at

7. See Windows Update is now carbon aware

8. Available in select countries only.

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