Sustainable Information Technology (IT) covers the manufacturing, use, management and disposal of IT in a way that minimises its impact on the environment.

This text is part of the Circular Electronics Initiative blog series. Multiple organizations stand behind this initiative that aims sto encourage organizations and consumers to take a more responsible approach to electronics.

To manufacture IT in a way which does not harm the environment it is crucial to explore methods in which we can reduce the number of materials and chemicals during production. This can be from making more environmentally friendly packaging by cutting down on filler and plastic to ensuring the processes which are used in manufacturing more energy efficient.

Circular Computing™ tackles the idea of Sustainable IT through a product recovery method known as remanufacturing, where existing laptops are disassembled, repaired and even upgraded to be ‘equal to or better than new’.

Why does sustainable IT matter?

The Earth’s resources are finite. Since the turn of the millennium, the world has been using its natural resources at an alarmingly fast rate. The global material footprint rose from 54 billion tonnes in 2000, to 92 billion in 2017, an increase of 70 per cent (UN Stats, 2019).

As the leaders of world commit to the “Build Back Better Agenda” following COP26, there remains a distinct lack of discussion around natural resource protection – which provides the backbone to the very meaning of the word sustainability.

IT is currently the most used office hardware and is having a large impact on the sustainability of our planet. Home working has taken to being the norm and along with it the demand of laptops and portable IT equipment has risen drastically. Alongside home working, remote learning has become normal due to the pandemic, meaning we are seeing an increase in the demand for IT equipment from both companies and schools.

The environmental impact isn’t visible unless looked at long term, it is only then that we realise with 8 hours of use every day a laptop can produce up to 88kg of carbon every year. This increased demand also adds a strain on our planet as each laptop newly manufactured costs 316kg of carbon emissions, 190,000 litres of water and 1.2 tonnes of materials being extracted from the earth.

Remanufactured IT creates a sustainable approach to laptops, by taking second-hand laptops which are still in working condition and repairing them to be as good as new. These remanufactured laptops negate the negative impact on our planet that buying large quantities of new brings.