Laptops are getting thinner, faster and more powerful but here’s what they’re doing to our planet:
- A typical computer chip factory in China uses enough electricity from coal-fired power stations to power a small city
- e-waste is one of the fastest-growing contributors to global landfill
- children as young as 4 are employed in the mines of Congo’s conflict regions, where 60% of the world’s supply of critical minerals are used to manufacture our computers and gadgets
- It takes around 100,000 litres of water and 1.7 tonnes of materials to make one new laptop
- The IT industry emits 2% of greenhouse gases worldwide, equal to the entire aviation industry and set to rise to 14% within 20 years
- A planet-warming 380kg of CO2e is released during the production of one new laptop
- Vulnerable communities work in hazardous conditions to produce the raw materials needed for manufacture
- The chemicals used in the extraction, processing and production of new computers can be hazardous, even lethal.
- Pollutants during manufacture enter the earth, contaminating water and food
- Despite laws forbidding it, many countries are dumping grounds for an estimated 30% of electronic waste. Local e-waste ‘pickers’ (often children) are exposed to harmful toxins with the long-term damage to populations and the environment far beyond the waste site
So what’s the answer? We can keep our devices until they break, rather than go for the newest models. We can lease rather than buy. Over 160 million new laptops are made every year yet hundreds of thousands of them are thrown away every day. 70% of those laptops could be reused either second-hand, refurbished or via the newest engineering process – remanufacturing.
Circular Computing (UK) is the world’s first carbon-neutral laptop remanufacturer, rebuilding discarded top brands back to original high performance, including new batteries and hard drives, and completely new appearance.
Costing up to 40% less than their equivalent model, these laptops are now being taken up by thousands of businesses worldwide keen to save their budgets as well as the planet.
Products need to be designed to last cradle-to-cradle rather than to the grave in a ‘circular economy’. It’s time to think more about what chucking our laptop in favour of the latest upgrade does to the planet, not just about what it does for us. The delight we take in our shiny new device is quite literally unsustainable.