The green movement is no longer a fringe phenomenon, but a mainstream business strategy and lifestyle choice. One study shows that 56% of Americans are willing to pay a premium for green electronics that use less energy and are easily recycled. Thus, saving energy while reducing waste is a goal for manufacturers of tech devices, from the high-powered render farms that media professionals rely on, to new laptops that weigh (and cost) less all the time.
A comprehensive “green tech strategy” is unique for every product, addressing energy, cost, waste and sustainability in all phases of its life – R&D, design, manufacturing, marketing and sales, usage and disposal/recycling. Lenovo’s new ThinkPad laptops, for instance, use 10-25% recycled plastic. Apple products, from the entire Macintosh line to CRE’s popular iPad rentals, are designed with great attention to raw materials, advanced manufacturing techniques and easy recycling.
Companies are creating both hardware and software solutions. New energy-efficient desktops can run on one-third of the power a four-year-old PC requires. Intel’s new chips are more powerful without using more energy, like the one that appears destined for an updated Mac Pro. There are various methods for keeping computers in low-energy mode until users need more “juice” for tough tasks.
Even mundane products like office equipment rentals get the energy-smart treatment. Hewlett-Packard and other firms are making great progress with printers, scanners and “all-in-ones” that snap out of sleep mode quickly when needed, then go back to snoozing until needed again. Various new energy sources and strategies are being studied, but the best ways to reduce the overall eco-impact of computing are common sense and low-tech:
plug computers, monitors and printers into a single power strip and turn them off when not in use;
set your monitor to darken during inactivity, not run a bright, watt-hungry light show;
keep air slots unblocked, don’t let dust build up inside your PC and “keep it cool” computer-wise; and
extend the useful life of high-tech devices with proper care and maintenance.
We’re getting there
Tech firms need to consider environmental impact when crafting IT solutions and developing products for long, useful lives. Whether it’s a specialized Xserve RAID or something as common as a PC desktop computer rental, when high-tech devices reach the end of their usefulness, manufacturers and retailers work together to ensure that reusable components are properly reclaimed and recycled. Cradle to grave environmental responsibility? Not quite, but we’re getting there!