In front, Martin Deron, project manager of the digital challenge Chemins de Transition, from the University of Montreal, and in the background in virtual, Guillaume Pitron, journalist, director, and author of the book “Digital Hell: journey to the end of a LIKE”, speaker at the event (Image: courtesy)
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THE TECHNO DOOR TIP. Extend the life of your IT fleet by promoting repair. This is part of the concrete actions that organizations can take right now to reduce the environmental footprint of their digital activities, according to an expert present at the ninth edition of the Montreal Innovation Summit (SMI) entitled “Between land and techno, does it click?”.
“We have this vision of digital as something unlimited, but it’s not like that, it’s limited,” argues Martin Deron, project manager for the Paths of Transition digital challenge at the University of Montreal.
This SMI event made it possible to precisely address a “blind spot”, namely the fact that technology pollutes more than we think. The digital industry generates 4% of the world’s greenhouse gases, more than aviation, says Guillaume Pitron, journalist, director, and author of the book “Digital Hell: Journey to the End of a LIKE”, speaker at the event.
“For a phone that weighs 40 grams, a lot of material had to be mobilized, perhaps 100 or 200 kilograms, but we don’t see it,” explains Martin Deron in an interview with The topics. “Although the device is very small, it represents a lot of material and, therefore, a lot of energy and a big impact. [sur l’environnement].”
Therefore, by delaying the time the company upgrades its fleet, it can delay the time the material will be scrapped. “In general, it will never be possible to compensate [les effets sur l’environnement de la fabrication]but the more we keep [un appareil] the longer the time, the more the effects are reduced”, adds the project director.
promote second hand
While there are no magic numbers on recommended lifespan, there are certain actions that can be taken to maintain hardware. “You have to develop device repair reflexes and, where possible, see if the device you need is available second-hand, on the used market,” explains Martin Deron.
In case the purchase of new equipment is unavoidable, the expert recommends that companies turn to devices that are more durable and therefore easier to repair. “There are products, whether they are computers or smartphones, that are much more repairable than others,” he says.
Martin Deron adds that environmental certification is also a good thing to consider to reduce your footprint when buying. “There are several, including the one from EPEAT,” says the expert.
There are also some proactive things companies can do to ensure that devices are not affected by planned obsolescence. “If you subscribe to a suite of products like Microsoft Office or Google, it depends on their support and how long your device can support it,” explains Martin Deron. For this reason, it recommends disassociating yourself from these tools to adopt free software.
Beyond concrete actions, the experts present at the SMI advocated a change in business models. They point out that the current rate of consumption, production, and extraction of the resources necessary for the manufacture of digital technology is not slowing down. It would even be incompatible with our environmental visions and the Paris Agreement.
Guillaume Pitron preaches in favor of a circular economy where digital products can be recycled. “[Présentement]the recycling of materials is difficult, the cost is expensive and that is why the opportunity is worth more than the new”, he explains.
More generally, experts also suggest educating and making employees aware of the environmental effects of digital, such as the pollution generated by sending emails with an attachment, which would remove this image of digital unlimited.
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