The greenback.Solutions to reduce our digital impact on the planet

GreenIT publishes a study on the environmental footprint of global digital technology.The sector will double its greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and triple its environmental impacts, particularly with the development of mines.

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The digital sector produces 4% of our global greenhouse gas emissions and consumes five times more natural resources than our French car fleet.On Monday 21 October, franceinfo revealed to you a groundbreaking study on the environmental footprint of digital technology published by the independent firm GreenIT.

To make our phones, computers, flat screens: we need water, energy and metals that are limited in quantity on the planet and that we operate with mines.The GreenIT firm, which brings together experts, associations such as WWF or HOP but also digital professionals, has calculated that the sector will triple its impact on the planet by 2025.It risks aggravating the ecological crisis if it does not recycle its products more, but also risks cutting the economic branch on which it is based.Indeed, according to this study, there are only 12 years of reserves of antimony, a chemical substance used in the manufacture of our electronic objects for example.Since three quarters of the problem comes from the manufacture of products, the authors of this study believe that the issue must be seriously addressed, especially with ever larger flat screens and a 48-fold increase in the number of connected objects such as watches or speakers by 2025.

Solutions exist to reduce our impact

The most effective, but not always the easiest thing to do, is to extend the life of our equipment: second-hand products, from four to eight years for your computer or from two to four years for your phone.Buying refurbished or second-hand equipment helps to reduce the impact of manufacturing these objects.There are currently 34 billion devices on the planet and they are still too few recycled.For example, only 6% of our phones are in France, whereas we sell 24 million a year.

Environmental footprint of global digital technology, GreenIT 2019 study.(GREENIT.FR)

The other effective gesture is to use bikes instead of cars, turn off his boxes, his wifi, the day before his TV in his absence.For the authors of this study, this should become an automatic gesture, such as avoiding letting your water tap run 24 hours a day.Finally, avoid as much as possible the use of the cloud, especially in 4G, this avoids the overheating of data centers.The study also recommends technological solutions: it is better to use virtual reality headsets or video projectors with LEDs than to multiply flat screens.They are largely responsible for the impacts of digital technology on the planet.

Solutions also for manufacturers and legislators

The sector can also do a lot to reduce the impacts of these products by promoting their eco-design, easier repair, part replacement and updating.For the authors of this study, it is also necessary to look at how connected objects are supplied with data because they will multiply by 48 in 15 years.If we don’t want to throw them away one after the other, watch or speaker manufacturers must open their programming interface, distinguish between corrective and evolutionary updates, i.e.those that increase the safety of the devices and those that can make your object obsolete.These provisions will be discussed in the next waste law, which is expected to be passed by the assembly by the end of the year.