Our little technological wonders never leave us. GPS, laptops, mobile phones, digital tablets, smartphones, MP3s, game consoles, Internet TV, etc. have become ubiquitous in our lives. Very trendy, they would even become indispensable. This equipment has it all. Some say, more and more small and powerful. And above all, they would be the solution we all expected to finally lighten our ecological footprint by allowing dematerialization. Among the Top Quality Electronics you will find the perfect choices also.
Would our digital society consume less and less raw materials? Not so sure. Of course, today the email replaces the sending of letters, videoconferencing avoid travel. But we have never consumed as much paper as since the computer “boom.”
Also, while the production of electronic and computer goods continues to increase, the life of these same goods, it decreases, producing tons of waste particularly difficult to manage. Our country, no less than 9.3 million tonnes of electronic devices, are sold each year. According to the consultant, in 2012, Belgians should buy 800,000 tablets and 1.8 million smartphones (50% increase compared to 2011).
Our electronic needs
Admittedly, computing and its applications in all fields are a major step forward for humanity. But beware of the excesses. It is necessary to take a critical look at the sustainability of our information society. Information technologies (ICTs) convey a “clean” image which advantageously serves the interests of manufacturers because ecology has become a selling point. Let’s explore the hidden side of our electrical and electronic devices.
To respect natural balances, we should limit our CO 2 emissions to 1,800 kg per person per year. However, the manufacture of the two computers is enough to emit them.
Water in my computer
The production of our electrical and electronic appliances has a heavy ecological footprint. A 24-kilogram computer with a 17-inch screen requires, according to a 2004 report, 1.8 tons of materials, including 240 kg of fossil energy, 22 kg of chemicals and 1500 liters of water. Like shoes, textiles, and toys, almost all production of electronic and computer equipment is outsourced, particularly in Asia.
Minors to extract my mobile phone
Many metals needed to make a computer are rare (copper, zinc, gold, tantalum, or cobalt). For example, a mobile phone contains 19% copper and 8% iron. These metals come from southern countries where they are exploited at the low cost of labor. Thus, half of the world’s cobalt needs (GSM batteries) are only provided by Zambia and Congo. Mines help to contaminate water and soils with toxic metal residues. The damage to workers’ health is enormous. Lead can cause irreversible damage to the nervous system, for example.
The consumption of electrical and electronic appliances has become considerably democratized. All circles and all social classes are concerned.
The telecommunications company
In 2009, at the global level, according to the International Energy Agency, electronic gadgets accounted for 15% of households’ electricity expenses. This is the sector where consumption is growing fastest.
Did you know? Over a year, a game console consumes more energy than a washing machine and a computer more than a refrigerator. And the consumption of Internet boxes and TV decoders, always on is not left out.
The hidden energy costs of the dormant devices are estimated at 4.8 billion dollars in the EU. This corresponds to 180 million tones of CO 2, which is half the EU’s reduction target under the Kyoto Protocol.