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An Update on Xbox Sustainability Efforts

Carbon negative, water positive and zero waste by 2030, sustainability updates to our Xbox Series X|S consoles, empowering players with energy saver mode, and more


  • Today, we’d like to share an update on how we’re progressing toward our commitments of being carbon negative, water positive, and zero waste by 2030.  
  • By 2030, we will design Xbox products and accessories, and all Microsoft product packaging, to be 100% recyclable in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.
  • Last year, we made improvements to the console’s Energy Saver sleep mode. Energy Saver mode consumes about 20 times less power than Standby mode when the console is not being used or receiving updates. Now, system and game updates can be downloaded during Energy Saver mode, further saving energy.
  • We’ve also revisited the materials we use in our products by incorporating Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) resins in Xbox Series S and our controllers.
  • For more information on what we’re doing, keep reading and check out our new sustainability hub for Xbox:

At Microsoft – and, by extension, at Xbox – we’ve set ambitious commitments to meaningfully reduce the company’s environmental impact and operate as a carbon negative, water positive and zero waste company by 2030.

Our mission as Team Xbox is to bring the joy and community of gaming to everyone on the planet. While gaming brings joy to players, we also recognize that gaming has an impact on our environment. Our commitment to our players and the industry is to work tirelessly to reduce that impact in a responsible way and consistent with Microsoft’s corporate commitments.

Microsoft’s 2021 Environmental Sustainability Report

Today, Microsoft released its 2021 Environmental Sustainability report that provides an update on our sustainability journey – from pledge to progress – for the whole business.

Our products and services have an impact on the environment due to the choices we make in hardware design, manufacturing, and delivery, as well as during their usage and at end of life in terms of recycling and re-use options. As Microsoft President Brad Smith shared today, the impact of Xbox sales and usage on our Scope 3 emissions increased year over year because of the pandemic.

Progress isn’t always linear; it fluctuates based on a variety of factors. It will not be a straight path to 2030, but we’re committed to reducing our environmental impact across all business areas to achieve our ambitious commitments.

Today, I’d like to share an update on what we’re doing.

Moving toward being more sustainable

To reduce the Xbox carbon footprint and help Microsoft achieve its commitment of being carbon negative by 2030, we’re working on improvements to our console hardware, introducing more ways to improve energy efficiency through software updates, and reducing the environmental impact of cloud gaming through hardware and software updates.

Hardware updates

We’ve made updates to both Xbox Series X and Series S with sustainability in mind and without impacting performance or the experience.

  • We embedded an enhanced power monitoring system in a small subset of consoles for expanded in-field, anonymous, telemetry collection. This is key because accurate, per unit telemetry helps us identify the best opportunities to introduce future improvements that will help us save power.
  • Starting in late 2021, Xbox Series S became our first console to incorporate Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) resins into the manufacturing of the body and various internal components. At a minimum, 28% of the mechanical component plastic by weight in the updated Series S console is post-consumer recycled (PCR) resin.

In addition to these changes, the Xbox team will continue to drive increased power efficiency and innovation.

Software improvements

Software updates provide an important way to improve energy efficiency for consoles that are already in the hands of our players.

  • Last year, we made improvements to the console’s Energy Saver sleep mode. Energy Saver mode consumes about 20 times less power than Standby mode when the console is not being used or receiving updates.  Now, system and game updates can be downloaded during Energy Saver mode, further saving energy.
  • We also made Energy Saver mode the default option when players initially set up their consoles, which offers a significant opportunity to enable energy savings across the entire Xbox ecosystem

Cloud gaming

We’re exploring how we can reduce the environmental impact of our Xbox Cloud Gaming offering.

  • Since most power usage occurs during game play, cloud gaming can take advantage of Azure’s significant renewable energy investments. By 2025, Azure datacenters will shift to 100% supply of renewable energy so cloud gaming can leverage this clean energy transition.
  • Our custom designed Xbox server hardware is based on the same power efficient architecture as our consoles. Also, using this hardware in the cloud environment allows us to reach hundreds more players per server over its lifetime.

Reducing our waste

To help us reach Microsoft’s commitment of being zero waste by 2030, we’re rethinking the materials we use to design, build, and package our products.

Zero waste by 2030

In 2020, Microsoft committed to being zero waste by 2030 across our direct business. Here’s what we’re doing:

  • By 2030, we will design Xbox products and accessories, and all Microsoft product packaging, to be 100% recyclable in OECD countries by 2030.
  • Xbox Series X|S consoles were recently assessed to be 97% recyclable in OECD countries based on UL 2789 Environmental Claim Validation (ECV) Procedure, which is standardized metric for measuring electronic product recyclability by material type.
  • We’ll continue innovating and assessing our consoles against emerging industry standards and benchmarks to continuously improve our efforts to reduce waste.

Using less plastic with our Xbox gift cards

  • We have converted our Xbox gift cards from plastic to paperboard, reducing over 500,000 kg of plastic annually.

Incorporating PCR into more of our products

We’ve also revisited the materials we use in our products.

  • Last year, we started incorporating PCR resins into our controllers while maintaining durability and performance quality.
  • This started with Daystrike Camo and Electric Volt, followed by many more controllers, including color and special-edition series.
  • The re-launch of our Xbox Design Labs has pushed the boundaries even further with the addition of 15 new colors that use PCR resins, with more coming in the future. Our overall PCR content across these 15 Xbox Design Lab colors is 25% at a minimum and we plan to increase the PCR content to 28% by May 2022.

Taking action together

We can’t do this alone. We must work together with our fans, developers, studios and the industry if we’re going to help reduce gaming’s impact on the environment. We’re committed to collaborating with our developers, partnering with organizations, and empowering players to make more informed decisions.

Empowering our developers

As a major publisher and developer, we want to empower the game designers of the future to develop in-game content and narratives around these themes to help educate and raise awareness.

  • Minecraft released a free series of sustainability and climate themed lessons, Climate Futures, in 2021, available for Minecraft: Education Edition players and via the Minecraft Marketplace on Bedrock Edition.
  • Forza Horizon 5 launched with a handful of electric vehicles, representing some of the most exciting, sustainable automobiles in the world, and the team will be increasing the number of EVs in the game in the year ahead.

We can do this in partnership with the industry

Microsoft also works closely with organizations like the United Nations to help tackle the world’s climate challenges on a broader scale.

  • Microsoft is a leading partner of the UN’s Playing for the Planet Alliance, representing 34 game company members and 7 associate members which have made voluntary, ambitious, specific, and time-based commitments in service of people and the planet.
  • Microsoft also supports and works with environmental organizations like The Nature Conservancy, and World Wildlife Fund, and encourages the Xbox community to get involved and support these efforts through incentives like earning Microsoft Rewards on Xbox and more.

What you can do

We also want to empower players to make more informed decisions that help reduce your impact. Here are some tips that will help you reduce your impact:

  • Energy Saver – To enable Energy Saver mode, please go to Settings->Sleep Mode & Startup->Sleep Mode->Energy saver. Check out this video to learn more.
  • Microsoft Store Online Trade-in Program – Check to see if your used device – laptop, tablet, phone, or game console – is eligible for trade-in and to get cash back.
  • Consumer Mail-back Program – If your used device is ineligible for trade-in, Microsoft offers a free mail-back program for consumers in many regions of the world to encourage responsible end-of-life management of consumer electronics products, related accessories, and packaging.
  • Sustainability in Minecraft – Learn about the impacts of climate change, explore sustainable infrastructure, and build solutions in a series of Minecraft worlds.
  • Xbox Wireless Controllers and Xbox Series S console – If you’re conscious about the materials used to create the products you love, look no further than our Electric Volt and Daystrike Camo controllers and most of our Xbox Design Lab controllers, which incorporate PCR resins. As does the Xbox Series S, our first console to incorporate PCR resins.
  • Ground Shipping with Microsoft Store – When ordering eligible products from the Microsoft Store in the US, select the free ground shipping option at checkout, which is our shipping method that typically results in the fewest carbon emissions.

There will be more to come

This is only a part of a bigger story, and there’s more we’re going to do over the next year and beyond to help tackle this important issue.

Our ambitions are high, and we recognize we still have a long way to go, but we’re committed because it is critically important that we get this right for the planet. But the work is never complete. We’re committed to continuing to learn, improve, and grow. You are an important part of this journey. We’ll continue to share updates on how we’re progressing.

For more information on what we’re doing, check out our new sustainability hub for Xbox: