Longer Use, Better Use: How to Avoid Software Induced Hardware Obsolescence

Longer Use, Better Use: How to Avoid Software Induced Hardware Obsolescence

Giovanna Sissa (University of Milan, Italy)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1972-2.ch009
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Abstract

An effective insight about ICT environmental sustainability requires to pay attention also to the software features, this being another responsible for the CO2 emissions of the ICT sector. The main concerns of green ICT are related to the energy consumption in the computer’s use phase, which doesn’t depend only on hardware but also on software configuration and from its efficiency. Software is also responsible for the induced hardware obsolescence; the computer lifecycle is shorter than the potential one. A software based approach, as proposed in the chapter, will also allow a longer use for PCs, respecting the environment, saving energy, emissions, and money and, in the meantime, moving toward the cloud computing paradigm. A sustainable balance between innovation, economy, and green aptitude can help to use computers better and longer. Cloud computing, broadband Internet, and thin client are key elements to reach an environmentally sustainable ICT. Environmental benefit starts from a different approach to an old issue, in a re-combination strategy.
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E-Waste

In the ‘90s the “e” prefix, standing for electronic, has been put before common nouns, giving them a meaning of new Internet based services: e-government, e-health, e-business, e-learning etc. All those neologisms had a positive meaning. But one day, for the first time, the e prefix had been put before a dirty common noun: waste. For the first time the association of the prefix electronic to a common noun was not synonymous of potential virtual improvement but of serious physical issue. The “e-waste era” was started.

E-waste is the popular, informal name for electronic products nearing the end of their useful life, like Computers, phones, notebook, monitor, also known as WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment).

It is the rapid growth of computing that is driving e-waste production. In the next five years one billion computers will be retired (Ladou & Lovegrove, 2008). Although the exact amount is unknown, the world’s production of e-waste has been estimated at 20-50 million tons per years (UNEP, 2007). E-waste represent the “dark side of the ICT” (Schwarzer, De Bono, Giuliani, Kluser, Peduzzi, 2005).

The increase in turnover is directly linked to the increase in the amount of obsolete equipments, i.e. the volume of e-waste expanding worldwide which needs to be treated.

Manufacturing computers and their various electronic and non-electronic components consumes electricity, raw materials, chemicals, water, and generates hazardous waste (Hilty, 2005). Each PC in use generates about a ton of carbon dioxide every year (Murugesan, 2008). Each stage of a computer’s life, from its production, throughout its use, and into its disposal, presents environmental problems. All these directly or indirectly increase carbon dioxide emissions and impact the environment and the trend is increasing in the Business As Usual (Gesi, 2008) scenario.

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