A laptop has two environmental footprints from a user perspective: everything before you unbox your computer and everything after you start using your shiny new device. Raw materials, component production, product assemblage, and the logistical supply chain to deliver a laptop, phone, tablet or smartwatch on your doorstep accounts for roughly 80% of the footprint. The energy consumption during four years of use accounts for 20%. That means it’s logical to extend a productive life as long as possible.
“We make cradle-to-grave tangible and manageable”
When measuring a product’s ecological footprint, a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) considers the impact in all life phases of a digital device. You can put a number on it: kilograms of emitted carbon dioxide equivalent (CO₂eq) in the supply chain and a four-year use.
CO₂eq is a metric measure used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases based on their global warming potential (GWP). Most laptop brands take only four years as the average use phase to calculate the total carbon footprint.
KPI for the Digital Workplace
CO₂eq is one of the sustainability KPIs for the digital workplace. With the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), approximately 50,000 companies across Europe have to publish regular reports on their environmental and social impact activities. For IT, CO₂eq is one of the sustainability KPIs.
Business have to take action
Modern devices like laptops and phones should last at least six or even seven years. Productivity is the main reason why many companies have a three-year cutoff rule. Businesses can’t afford to wait until computers show performance degradation. But, within the EU, companies will be held accountable to make electronics last longer. The silver lining is that companies can reduce the CO₂eq of end-user computing when they take responsibility for a second-life program inside or outside their organisation.
How to reduce the carbon footprint?
There are two ways to reduce the LCA carbon footprint.
- First, addressing the LCA in their procurement strategy by choosing devices with a lower footprint. Laptop cases containing 90% or more recycled magnesium and post-consumer recycled plastics reduce the LCA significantly.
- Second, giving laptops, tablets and other end-user computing devices an extended life inside or outside their organisation. When the lifespan is extended from four to six years, the yearly CO₂eq drops by one-third.
A second and maybe third life of a laptop, tablet, networking or storage equipment is essential to reduce an organisation’s carbon footprint.
The Circular IT group focuses on extended life cycle management with environmental, economic and social return for our customers. We make cradle-to-grave tangible and manageable.