In the digital age, excessive consumption of technologies leads to digital pollution, while their owners can take advantage of less environmentally harmful alternatives.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released a new report titled Climate Change 2021: The Science. The latter provides the most advanced knowledge in climate science and confirms the influence of humans on climate. Technology can be very polluting … Therefore, it is necessary for users of IT infrastructure to consider the benefits of maintaining, recycling and reconditioning their equipment. In the digital age, excessive consumption of these technologies leads to heavy digital pollution, while its owners can take advantage of other alternatives that are less harmful to the environment and as efficient and functional.
State of the digital pollution game
First of all, it is necessary to take an inventory of digital pollution. Data centers and professional IT infrastructures are very energy intensive and cause huge digital pollution, the volume of which will increase drastically in conjunction with their use. Data centers must be supplied with electricity at all times: first of all to operate, but also to cool. Thus, the digital carbon footprint is primarily linked to terminals, which make up 79%of the footprint, followed by data centers (over 16%) then networks (around 5%).
Digital sector consumption has consequences: by 2020, the ICT field will be responsible for 3 to 4% of global CO2 emissions and will consume up to 9% of the world’s total electricity. Many players, both in the public and private sectors, are now using this technology as the amount of data from individuals and organizations increases. The technologies concerned are those in the cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), big data, e-commerce, or even on social platforms.
Thus, an estimate made shows that almost ¾ of data center users are looking for ways to reduce the operating costs of their data centers without having to suffer a loss in the quality of IT operations. In addition, the data economy is very expensive and its maintenance requires cutting-edge expertise, which is currently rare: 53% of companies say they don’t have the expertise necessary for implementing sustainable IT.
How are green IT solutions?
If data centers are new sources of massive pollution, the fact remains that so -called green IT solutions exist. Maintenance performed by a third party (third-party maintenance or TPM) is a great way to fix your equipment, and extend its life as much as possible, especially since its cost is up to 70% more. lower than the original equipment. manufacturer. This option is a source of hope that makes it possible for the integration of data centers with TPM suppliers to achieve substantial effort that contributes to carbon neutrality in a medium-long term perspective. Other solutions exist such as the use of reconditioned equipment and the recycling of reusable parts and raw materials. These innovations make it possible to align with the objectives of COP26, which laid a simple foundation in the recycling economy according to three Rs: repair, reuse, recycle. So it is sad to note that 89% of organizations recycle less than 10% of their equipment (IT hardware). It is also relevant to mention that, typically, servers are used at only 10% or 20% of their capacity, hence the interest of widespread use of green IT recycling solutions computing professionals.
However, how to explain that they are not widely used? Professionals may be reluctant to use refurbished. It is necessary to contradict the received ideas: the equipment is organized and efficient. However, state actors are acting: green IT law is evolving into international and regional law. At the European level, we can mention the Right to Sort and the management of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE or D3E). This desire to legislate and regulate shows a genuine interest in the data and suggests its preservation, hence the interest in its recycling and preservation! Companies are also acting and more and more need to include the costs and consequences of the data they use in the future. These concerns are likely to be identified in private sector CSR.
As seen previously, the computer component industries are faced with shortfalls exacerbated by the health crisis. Chips and semiconductors have fallen victim to their own success and many sectors, such as the automotive industry for example, have had to delay their production around the world. To these inconveniences must be added the constant rise in prices (ingredients, steel, rare earths and minerals, etc.), the result of inflation caused by excessive demand on supply and our dependence on these producing country. In addition, it should also be noted that the manufacturing stage of the terminals is the main source of digital environmental impact (more than 75% of GHGs), followed by the utilization stage.
All of these elements are good reasons to extend the life of equipment in place, to repair it, by replacing defective parts second-hand, and finally recycling those that can no longer be repaired. . The devices will benefit from an extended life beyond what the manufacturer recommends (the estimated useful life). Avoided expenses can free up a budget allowing players to earn more, optimize their processes and innovate. In the era of digital change, it should be mentioned that forecasting change through R&D is essential to remain competitive and efficient. All of these very promising advantages for the future allow us to rethink consumption in the IT environment in a more efficient and sustainable way.