The cheap design and short shelf life of Chromebooks lead to people treating them as disposable devices and creating piles of trash. This is evidenced by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), writes The Vice.

Chromebooks have become an important part of the educational life of many students, especially during the pandemic. But these computers, which are inexpensive to manufacture, are usually designed for a short period of use. Once broken, they are often beyond recovery.

According to estimates by PIRG specialists, this caused 9 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions in the first year of the pandemic alone. But extending the life of Chromebooks could not only reduce emissions, but also save taxpayers $1.8 billion by reducing the need to replace them.

Specialists also pay attention to hidden costs that are not reflected on price tags. These are spare parts that are extremely difficult to find. For example, there are only minor differences between the Dell 11 3100 and Dell 100 3110 Chromebooks, but they are not compatible.

“The combined price of these parts is more than half the cost of a new laptop,” the report states. “These highcosts may make schools reconsider Chromebooks as a cost-saving strategy.”

PIRG also analyzed the results of device repairs in France, where they are evaluated for repairability, as the Energy Star program evaluates the energy consumption of devices. On average, Chromebooks scored 5.8 out of 10. That’s well below the 6.9 average for non-Chromebooks.

The problems are not limited to this. If the Chromebook does “live” longer than a few years, it will still be out of support over time. With this in mind, PIRG recommends that action be taken to address these issues. For example, increase the duration of automatic updates to 10 years and improve access to common hardware.

We will remind that last year the European Commission spoke for new smartphone and tablet repair rules, requiring manufacturers to provide at least 15 components to professional repairers within five years of the release of a new smartphone in the EU.