Environmental issues

Environmental issues are those where the manufacturing and use of computers has had a negative impact on the environment.

Resources are needed to in order for computers to be produced, distributed and used. Metals and plastics are used to manufacture components, while energy is expended in distributing equipment and in using it.

Many computers, such as web servers, domain name servers and data centres, need to be left running continuously. This requires lots of energy to maintain. Additionally, businesses, organisations, schools and homes all now have greater access to technology.

Many computer components are either hard to recycle or contain toxic materials, such as lead. Also, users discard ICT equipment quite quickly:

  • people have new smartphones every couple of years
  • many organisations replace computers after three or four years
  • many people replace older technology before it fails simply because they perceive it to be old-fashioned or out of date

All of this means that computers have a heavy impact on the environment, which is unlikely to decrease in the near future. However, many devices are now more power efficient than their predecessors and some companies have come up with innovative ways to save power.

A pile of discarded computers