When people think of climate change, they usually focus on cars or factories. Yet a study commissioned by chipmaker AMD has shown that 14 large-scale //power production plants must run worldwide just to provide electricity to computer centers.
Then there are millions of PCs in private or corporate settings to be figured in as well. Not to mention the manufacture and disposal of the machines, all of which damage the environment.
User behaviour influences energy consumption. "That's why you should always activate the energy saver functions," recommends Mona Finder from Dena. This might turn the monitor off when the computer is not in use, for example. Animated screen savers are fossils from an earlier age of computing, she notes. "They just tend to use up energy, and they don't even save the screen."
It's difficult to put a firm number on how much energy, water, and raw materials go into PC manufacturing. It's been estimated that 15 kg of raw materials are needed for one processor, says Martin Hojsik from Greenpeace International in Bratislava, Slovakia.
It is clear, however, that valuable material is built into and around the PC: the metal casing in particular is of interest. "Metal is currently bringing in good prices," says Andreas Habel from the German Association for Secondary Raw Materials and Waste Disposal in Bonn. Some 1.87 million tonnes of electronic junk are produced each year in Germany, with IT scrap making up 114,000 of those tonnes.
The question of disposing old electronics is a tricky one. In some countries, the legal path is a clear one: old devices can be returned to the manufacturer free of charge or brought to community recycling centers. Yet this is still not a wonderful solution for the environment: even with the most modern of recycling technologies, a significant amount of material is sent to the landfills.
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