The impact of technology on the environment is well known, and yet we are seeing some small but significant changes, which signal a shift in the right direction.
Why does Technology have such a big impact on the environment?
The effect on the environment is not only because hardware is replaced every few years, but also because everything is backed up online, and sits in a data centre. These data centres use a huge amount of electricity and resources in the process. Plus there is the packaging…and there is a lot of packaging.
However, it is not all doom and gloom, here are a few great innovations that are making incremental changes to the environmental impact.
Just a few years ago, we would end up with piles of polystyrene packaging, that the computers, monitors, phones and every other IT devices were packaged in.
This packaging was NOT recyclable and we could only pay for it to be dumped.
Now, very little packaging comes with IT equipment. Nearly everything now uses pre-pressed cardboard. This contains far less material as it is shaped and not solid, and can go directly into recycling. What a great difference this simple change has made.
The latest devices tend to use far less power than the ones a few years ago. The processors are more powerful, and less power hungry.
Because they consume less power, they need less cooling and less cooling means they can be designed to use less materials. Manufacturers are thinking hard about how to reduce power consumption.
Devices are generally getting smaller and therefore use less materials in manufacture.
The classic example of this is the move several years ago now from the huge CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors to the much thinner and lighter digital screens.
The other clear example is moving from the older desktop computers to predominantly NUCS or mini-PCs, which have a fraction of the raw materials. Again, our recycling racks would be full of old desktop computers, whereas now there is just a small pile of dead NUCs.
The recycling services have also improved. Whilst e-waste continues to be a huge global issue, New Zealand technology companies are seeing small gains happening.
Use of recycled materials:
Some laptop brands have started using recycled materials in the construction of equipment such as laptop cases, and laptop bags, even letting you know how many plastic bottles it took to make them!
Carbon offset schemes:
Some manufacturers are also offering carbon offset schemes, where you can offset the emissions used in producing and manufacturing the equipment. Ask us for more details if you are interested.
Manufacturers are aware that consumers are increasingly aware of the impact on the environment, and want to make a point of difference.
It’s definitely not all roses as we still despair at the number of plastic bags that are used, and how every little thing comes in its own bag.
In summary, we wanted to let you know that there are many notable changes going on in the IT industry to make it ‘greener’ and less damaging to our planet.