The CP-Querschläger column: IT between sustainability and greenwashing
When it comes to environmental protection, animal welfare, climate change or the ecological conscience, the consumer is usually pilloried according to good German custom. His greed for ever cheaper and even more forces the oh so distressed industry to overproduce and exploit entire continents.
For real? Is child labor necessary for the production or “recycling” of electronic waste if up to 2,000 euros are required for the latest smartphone? Isn’t it the consumers who pay environmental taxes for their electricity, while industrial electricity is subsidized? Who pays for disposal while plastics production and mining are promoted? Politics, trapped in lobbyism and obedience to growth, creates more problems than solutions locally and globally.
Now IT is also advertising with “green”, for example in the packaging or with fished out ocean plastic. It is doubtful whether the proportion of these plastics in the product reaches the per mil range. Even the low drinking water consumption in PC production with around 20,000 liters – as much as three pounds of ground beef – is not the problem, but the disposal. Electronic waste makes up around 70 percent of “dangerous waste”, plus microplastics. Pollutants that end up in our drinking water, the air we breathe or our food – ultimately in ourselves.
This is not the fault of the consumer either, but rather holey laws that make it possible to trade rubbish. This means that only the most expensive precious metals are professionally recycled in IT scrap, the rest ends up with the fish or on the toxic rubbish tips of the poorer world.
How digitization, including the cloud, affects the environment as a whole, also remains opaque. What is certain is that IT’s hunger for more and more energy and material can no longer be satisfied from inside our planet, but must be generated from renewable sources. The CO stored for millions of years2 in oil, gas and coal must remain where the ecosystem has spent its natural intelligence – underground.
Sustainability and recycling remain difficult in ICT. The commendable CO2-Neutral data centers, as well as the wind, water and solar energy producers, are opposed to dubious promises about the future.
See you soon, your ricochet!
The ChannelPartner author “Querschläger” is a specialist dealer from Rhineland-Palatinate. You can find all comments on the CP “ricochet” in the “ricochet” archive.