Electronic devices have become an essential part of daily life, from cell phones to laptops, music players to TV. But these technological trends have lead to a significant increase of electrical energy demands in homes. The International Energy Agency estimates electrical energy usage should triple by 2030 worldwide, which means more carbon emissions linked to electricity production. Yet, you can make a smarter choice to help reduce power consumption as well as your environmental footprint by buying green electronics that are less toxic and more energy efficient. So, before replacing your home equipment or other electronic gadgets with conventional appliances, here is what you should know about the environmental benefits of eco electronics:
Electronic gadgets or any other appliance have a serious environmental footprint during their entire lifecycle. Consumer electronics of any size consume a large amount of energy and contain many hazardous chemicals such as lead, mercury and cadmium. Additionally, disposing of electronics will inevitably add waste in landfills as well as increase soil contamination, water and air pollution. Fortunately, many electronics manufacturers participate in recycling programs that help consumers to recycle their old electronics. However, the recycling rate of electronic materials remains as low as 18%, leaving 1,8 million tons of dangerous items that end up in landfills.
In addition to recycling electronic equipment, using them longer can reduce new electronics production and the e-waste they generate. But, if you really need to upgrade your equipment, you should think about buying greener products. More and more electronics manufacturers are committed to making their devices more environmentally friendly, including removing as many hazardous chemicals as possible, and making them more energy efficient to reduce their environmental and health impacts. Two green labels help the consumer to recognize those new green electronics:
New technologies are being developed to meet energy efficiency standards as controlled by the Energy Star Program. Electronic devices that have earned the Energy Star logo respect strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and U.S Department of Energy. Purchasing products labeled Energy Star will help reduce your power consumption since theses devices consume less electricity than conventional ones. Initially, home appliances labeled Energy Star such as dishwashers, dryers and refrigerators may be more expensive, but in the long term, you will see the difference on your power bill.
The Electronic product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT®) represents another way for consumers to evaluate the environmental performance of computer products and also provides recognition to electronics manufacturers for their efforts to reduce the environmental impacts of their products. Eco electronics are clearly made identifiable for consumers thanks to the EPEAT logo. The EPEAT® evaluates individual electronic products according to “three tiers of environmental performance – Bronze, Silver and Gold. The complete set of criteria includes 23 required criteria (i.e. all criteria must be met to achieve the Bronze, or “baseline”, EPEAT® ranking) and 28 optional criteria (i.e. producers can pick and choose among these criteria to boost their EPEAT®baseline “score” to achieve a higher ranking level).” Since its creation in 2005, EPEAT® requirements have had several environmental benefits such as the reduction of primary and toxic materials including mercury, disposable avoidance and power saving. Visit the EPEAT official website for more information.
Under EPEAT® influence, most electronics manufacturers now provide information about their policies toward becoming more earth friendly and making their products green in every aspect of their lifecycle, from manufacturing to transportation, consumer use to disposal. For example, Apple has begun to include estimates on the greenhouse gas emissions generated by each product, including manufacturing, transport and consumer use.
Therefore, if you need a new computer or other electronic gadgets, check companies’ environmental policies, and look for EPEAT® and Energy Star logos, as they will guarantee you a greener computer. To learn more, you can also read the green electronics guide written by Greenpeace. Each year, the green organization releases a guide to green electronics that evaluates and ranks companies in their eco-practices. The guide aims to inform customers about the environmental impacts of electronics companies as well as encourage manufacturers to sustainably improve their products and their performance.
Consumers who have made a smarter choice during the past seven years by buying eco electronics have already positively impacted the environment and contributed to keep 14.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent from being released into the atmosphere and prevented the release of 320,000 metric tons of hazardous waste, EPEAT® said. Why not you? Become an environmentally conscious consumer by only purchasing Energy Star and EPEAT® certified green electronics. Your choice at your own scale will contribute to encourage electronic manufacturers to design less toxic and more energy efficient products.
Check out this handy infographic EPEAT® published to learn more about how the planet benefits when you choose eco electronics.