What is your new company laptop costing the environment?

Written by Hermann Frankfurth, General Manager: Remarketing at RentWorks

When you hear the word ‘carbon emissions’, images of towering chimneys at coal-fired plants, endless motor vehicles on the highway, and large-scale manufacturing facilities may come to mind. But have you ever considered the environmental impact of your company laptop?

Research shows that 3.7% of carbon emissions, also known as global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), are caused by digital technologies. Called a digital carbon footprint, many business severely underestimate the environmental impact of producing communication hardware, such as laptops, cellphones, and servers.

From mining the earth metals, producing raw materials, manufacturing the equipment, transporting and distributing the equipment to consumers, and, ultimately, the extensive decomposition time if not recycled effectively – the combined impact of the value chain involved to produce your company laptop has a significant cost.

The environmental impact of new technology

To put this in perspective, a simple calculation can be used to showcase the carbon emissions cost for new IT equipment:

  • A grown tree absorbs 167kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and releases oxygen in exchange.
  • Manufacturing a new laptop produced 300kg of carbon dioxide.
  • This means that 1,8 trees are needed to counter the impact of your new company laptop.

These numbers should be especially concerning for South African businesses. In a recent report by Statista, South Africa was rated as one of the top 15 largest emitters of carbon dioxide in the world. Although this is mainly due to the country’s reliance on coal energy, several other factors are contributing to this growing environmental problem.

Discarded electronic appliances, which often contains toxic chemicals, are rapidly filling up South African landfills. Called e-waste, it is the country’s fastest growing waste category. According to the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, 360 000 tonnes of e-waste end up in landfills every year (ESG: The Future of Sustainability). One of the reasons for this is the very low recycling rate for e-waste, sitting at only 7 – 12%.

The impact on business’s bottom line

Apart from the severe environmental consequences, businesses will be placed under increasing pressure to lower their carbon emissions footprint. After confirmation that South Africa will miss its Paris climate agreement targets for 2030, government needs to prioritise lowering the country’s carbon emissions.

The area where it will hit businesses the hardest is their financial wellbeing. With one of the world’s highest per capita emissions, global investors are honing in on low-carbon growth opportunities and avoiding carbon-intensive companies with no long-term sustainability plans in place.

Simultaneously, South Africa’s Carbon Tax Act implemented in 2019 will see the rate per tonne increase by 19.49% from R159 to R190 per tonne of CO2e for 2024. Together with this, the carbon fuel levy will increase to 11 cents per litre for petrol and 14 cents per litre for diesel, effective 3 April 2024 (Source: KPMG).

The cost-effective, low-carbon cost answer

There are several ways a company can start to decrease its digital carbon footprint. A long-term solution could include renewable energy solutions, green data centres, implementing carbon off-setting policies, and e-waste recycling strategies.

A cost-effective way to lower your company’s GHG emissions is to stop purchasing new hardware and IT equipment. Not only does refurbished equipment reduce waste, but has a lower CO2 emissions footprint.

  • Calculations show 1,8 trees are needed to counter the impact of a new company laptop.
  • Refurbished laptops use 75% less CO2 than a new unit.
  • This translates to 1.35 trees being saved for every refurbished unit replacing a new unit.

Due to the environmental benefits, combined with various financial benefits such as improved cash flow, more and more South African businesses are opting for refurbished assets, such as RentWorks’ Flexi-Rent solutions.

With these tailormade rental solutions, business can maintain their competitive edge without the burden of investing substantial amounts in depreciating hardware. From laptops to servers, for a period of one week to one year, Flexi-Rent is truly the answer for businesses that need the power of flexibility while enjoying uninterrupted productivity.

If your company wants a lower carbon footprint, more effective e-waste strategy, or are interested in RentWorks’ Flexi-Rent solutions, visit the website or call +27 11 549 9000.

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