Refurbished IT Devices are Better for the Environment
There are many great reasons to shop for second-hand refurbished electronics, but are they in fact better for the environment than buying a brand new one?
Many organisations are beginning to procure refurbished IT devices in order to minimise costs, but they’re also doing so because it’s quite simply better for the environment. How much better? How ‘bad’ is it to buy new IT devices instead?
In addition to procuring ‘as new’ refurbished IT assets, organisations are also yielding excellent benefits from IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) services that refurbish their old devices. What this does – procuring and essentially creating refurbished IT assets – is create more of a circular economy that reduces needless electronic waste (e-waste) whilst also saving money in the process.
How Much Does it Cost to Buy New IT Devices?
The cost of purchasing a new IT asset can be evaluated in many ways, and like the observer effect in quantum physics, it can change depending on who’s looking at it. To procurement, the cost might be the big bold €, $ or £ symbol on a supplier’s website. To accounting, the cost might be categorised as a depreciable asset, reducing year after year in a double-entry account. To the planet as a whole, the cost can be evaluated in terms of environmental impact.
Extracting raw materials to make a brand new laptop or mobile phone is an intense process that has severe environmental impacts and in many cases severe negative impacts on human rights. These raw materials then need to be converted into the fancy IT gadgets that are now so commonplace in our homes, offices, and quite literally littering up landfills far sooner than they should be.
The Hidden ‘Costs’ of Buying New IT Devices
While dollars and euros might be obvious ways to signal the cost of an IT device, there are many hidden costs as mentioned in the previous segment. It’s estimated that just one average smartphone requires about 55 kg of carbon emissions in order to manufacture, which is roughly equivalent to doing 26 weeks’ of laundry.
As consumers, private or business, we often don’t see that figure on the price tag. Just some simple napkin maths can give an impression of the environmental impact of new IT devices. Take, for example, a rough population of 500 million in the EU27 and in the United Kingdom. Most, with the exception of the very young or the very elderly, likely own a smartphone (even with limited income) and perhaps even purchase one every couple of years. The total amount of CO2e generated might be invisible to the naked eye, and we might not see it when unboxing a brand new iPhone or laptop for the office, but it nevertheless was generated during the manufacturing of each and every device.
Planned Obsolescence or Mass Consumerism?
There are two big reasons why businesses (and private individuals) continually purchase brand new IT devices: planned obsolescence and mass consumerism. These two ideas can overlap, and to an extent both are certainly contributing to excessive e-waste.
According to a publication from the European Environment Agency, many electrical and electronic items are discarded well before their designed lifetime (this can be seen as a sort of ‘planned obsolescence’). Across the various types of items analysed, the average actual lifespan was around 2.3 years shorter than either the desired lifetime (how the person wants the device to last) or the designed lifetime.
A brief summary could be that many devices are being discarded far sooner than they could be (or should be). If this is indeed the case, then mass consumerism could be an adequate explanation for this behaviour (but it is not likely the only reason). The publication lists findings that there is significant potential for the re-use and refurbishment of items indirectly, by stating that in order to meet EU climate objectives, delaying the obsolescence of electronics and thereby extending the useable lifespan can have significant impacts.
Refurbished IT Devices and Environmental Sustainability
If new IT devices are the cause of so much environmental impact and carbon emissions, what then is the effect of buying refurbished as an alternative? The environmental costs have been variously measured for brand new devices such as smartphones, but how much emissions are generated by refurbished devices?
The short answer is that a refurbished device has zero effect on CO2e in terms of manufacture, simply because the device does not need to be ‘re-manufactured’. Instead, the total environmental impact can only be measured in terms of refurbishment and ongoing CO2e from electrical usage (i.e. charging the device).
The vast majority (perhaps 85-95%) of carbon emissions of a smartphone come from manufacturing, with the remaining 5-15% coming from annual usage. In short, buying a new smartphone every year is terribly wasteful behaviour and buying refurbished is far better for the environment.
How ITAD is Helping to Reduce E-Waste
IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) is not the same as electronics recycling, although recycling may be a service offered by an ITAD Company. Instead, an ITAD company such as Wisetek will seek to most securely and efficiently dispose of a redundant IT asset, which could mean Data Destruction or Hard Drive Disposal through physical means, but it could also include refurbishment and remarketing useable IT assets.
Wisetek offers a wide range of ITAD services such as Data Centre Decommissioning and other Data Centre Services, secure data destruction, and many other IT Solutions. Moreover, refurbished IT devices are remarketed through our e-commerce platform, Wisetek Store.
Are Refurbished IT Devices Better for the Environment?
Refurbished IT devices are far better for the environment than buying new. A Circular Economy such as Wisetek’s is a great way to keep usable electronics circulating and seeing productive use whilst also benefitting the environment by keeping them away from landfills for as long as possible – even then, Wisetek recycles IT assets and is committed to a Zero-Landfill Policy.
The Wisetek Store is Wisetek’s circular economy solution that refurbishes and remarkets IT devices such as refurbished laptops, MacBooks, mobile phones, and more. All orders over €100 come with free delivery within Ireland, the UK, and elsewhere in continental Europe.
Moreover, all products come with a free 12-month warranty for repairs and customers can clearly see the condition of each product before making their purchase. Please note that all refurbished devices sold on Wisetek Store have had all sensitive data securely destroyed before during the refurbishment process.
Buy Refurbished and Save with Wisetek
Whether your organisation needs to procure refurbished assets or you’d like to dispose of redundant assets that can be refurbished, Wisetek is your ideal partner for secure and professional ITAD. Find our refurbished ‘as new’ products listed on Wisetek Store (Wisetek Store).
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