Apr 12, 2023
by James Roberts
Xbox’s Recycled Plastic Controller Taps Into Post-Consumer Resources
by James Roberts
Apr 12, 2023

What can the world of gaming do for the protection of the natural world? As it turns out, quite a bit. Consoles and platforms like Xbox might exist in the virtual sphere but their impact can be very real. Energy consumption, for example, is high, especially when gamers are spending several hours a day exploring far off planets or killing fungal zombies. In fact, with most games now played online, the industry contributes to “internet pollution”, which accounts for 3.7 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions.

And, of course, the physical consoles themselves are made from potentially harmful plastics. So, in an effort to achieve “greater sustainability” across its product range, and inspired by Earth Day – the marketing moment of the year – Xbox has created a controller made in part by recycled and reclaimed materials.

The iconic game controller has been remade with a mix of regrind materials – mechanically broken down Xbox One controller plastics – and post-consumer recycled resins from reclaimed materials like automotive headlight covers, plastic water jugs, and CDs. (A strange mix of items, you’d agree.) By doing so, Xbox says it’s “exploring ways to use less new plastic and reduce waste.”

The Remix Special Edition controller is rendered in an earthy, natural patchwork of colors, including a bright green that’s inspired by lichen found in the Pacific Northwest Forest. The tactile side grips are decorated with a topographic texture pattern – “a nod to the earth’s dynamic landscape.”

Also part of the release is a rechargeable battery pack that can give you up to 30 hours of gameplay per charge. This of course negates the need for wasteful disposable AAs.

What this controller doesn’t tackle is the problem of mined metals that are used inside, such as copper, nickel, gold and zinc. Untraceable metals may have their origin in manufacturers that violate human rights or harm local environments. And the extraction and production of mining produces vast amounts of carbon dioxide. Perhaps the next step for Xbox is a controller that’s not only better for the planet on the outside, but on the inside too.

Elsewhere, Xbox is doing more to reduce its impact on the planet. Energy saving updates on the Xbox Series X|S can reduce power usage by to 20 times, whilst Minecraft maps educate players about the frozen wonders of our world. By 2030, Microsoft and Xbox aim to be carbon negative, water positive and to produce zero waste. Rethinking the materials that go into its controllers is just one stop on that journey.

The Xbox Remix Special Edition controller is available to preorder and will be released on April 18. And in other circular design news, PANGAIA’s new sneaker is 3D-printed and designed to be recycled.