Environmental Issues

Environmental issues in Computing

The Effects of the Production of Hardware

  • Manufacturing technology hardware involves the extraction of non-renewable natural resources, which can be environmentally damaging.
  • The industrial processes used to create hardware release greenhouse gases and toxic waste.
  • Many components of technology hardware are not biodegradable, and discarded equipment can contribute to landfill.

The Use of Energy by Devices

  • Personal computers, servers and other technology hardware use significant amounts of energy, which often comes from non-renewable sources, contributing to CO2 emissions.
  • The energy required to keep the internet running (including data centers and cloud storage) is substantial, and increasing as our reliance on digital infrastructure grows.

The Environmental Costs of E-Waste

  • E-waste represents a large and growing environmental challenge. Electronic devices contain a range of toxic materials that can pollute ecosystems when disposed of inappropriately.
  • Many electronic devices are not recyclable; therefore, when obsolete, they often end up in landfill.
  • The inadequate handling and disposing of e-waste in the developing world can cause serious health and environmental concerns.

Strategies to Reduce Environmental Impact

  • Energy efficient design reduces the energy requirements of hardware. This not only means devices that use less power when running, but also devices that require less energy in manufacturing.
  • Cloud computing can help reduce energy consumption by eliminating the need for individual servers for every enterprise.
  • Recycling and proper disposal programs help manage e-waste by taking responsibility for the lifecycle of hardware.
  • Regulations and standards enforced by government and international bodies can play an important role in minimising the environmental impact of the technology sector.
  • Promoting awareness about the environmental impact of computing and the provision of information about how to reduce this impact can also be effective.