Connected objects: what impact do they have on our environment ?
Today, the ecological impact of digital represents up to three times that of France, according to Green it. New technologies consume, among other things, 4.2 % of global energy and a large amount of non -renewable resources. They also emit 3.8 % of the overall GHG volume (greenhouse gas).
Thus, consumers must act to limit digital pollution.
A negative impact
In a 2019 report, Ademe drew up a globally negative assessment of theEnvironmental impact of connected objects. The latter participate in particular in the pollution floors, water and air, like all other electrical and electronic devices. However, they stand out by a problematic life cycle, defined by :
- A heavy carbon footprint during the manufacturing phase;
- A fairly short duration of use;
- An often irremediable end of life.
Moreover, these disadvantages are amplified by the particularly high number of connected devices in the world. They were around 15 billion in 2018. For Ademe, this equipment could easily exceed 45 billion by 2030, given the current trend.
They would, in this case, become the second source of digital pollution in the world, after the Internet and data centers.
There manufacturing alone concentrates most of the GHG emissions of connected objects. This step represents 73% of their full life cycle carbon footprint. Energy consumption is divided in particular between assembly, transport and the extraction of raw materials.
In general, electronic components are made from plastics, chemicals, various metals and rare earths. However, the extraction of minerals is a particularly energy-intensive operation. In addition, mines often use fossil fuels, recognized as polluting.
As noted by Ademe, more than 200 kilograms of material must be excavated to obtain a few grams of the elements sought. The operation also involves a large consumption of water, from the extraction to the transformation of the minerals. At each stage, it is also necessary to take into account the CO2 emissions from machines.
A continuous Internet connection
In addition to manufacturing, the environmental impact of connected objects comes largely from the use. Indeed, these devices are known for their enormous energy consumption on a daily basis. The phenomenon stems directly from the wireless connection which requires a large amount of energy.
However, these devices are often continuously connected to other equipment or the Internet. Some tools also need to keep a permanent connection to retrieve online information, updates, etc. This is particularly the case of a smart watch or a smart bracelet.
Users will thus be able to access data stored in the Cloud or on other equipment.
Finally, the pairing shows the lack of energy efficiency of this equipment. Indeed, many connected objects must work simultaneously with another device to be usable (earphones, VR headsets, etc.).). Energy expenditure is therefore doubled.
The question of the’use of collected data
Once collected, the data from connected objects are transmitted to a smartphone, tablet, computer, etc. The device will thus be able to fulfill its role on a daily basis. However, this mode of operation implies the existence of a continuous flow of information from the user. However, the storage of this data is ecologically worrying.
Concretely, the cloud refers to a large network of computers, servers, data storage centers, etc. All these infrastructures need a large amount of energy to function. They also generate a lot of heat.
As a result, these installations require efficient cooling systems which still involve additional electricity consumption.
This reasoning also applies to the Internet in general. For cloud services in particular, the stored data is often backed up in several server farms at the same time. In this case, the environmental footprint will be multiplied by the number of copies of the stored data.
Limit l’negative impact of connected objects on the’environment
There are a multitude of small gestures to reduce the environmental impact of connected objects. You can, for example, deactivate the automatic synchronization option on connected devices. This feature allows access to the same information from any medium (PC, smartphones and tablets).
By disabling it, you less strain on servers and the entire network. This technique also makes it possible to consume less energy and thus increase the autonomy of the battery of the device. Also, these updates are frequent by default.
The environmental gains will therefore be substantial and visible.
Do not overconsume’connected objects
When discovering the advantages of connected objects, many users tend to multiply purchases afterwards. However, it is not really necessary to be over-equipped in this area. There eco-responsible consumption is also essential to reduce the ecological footprint of digital.
For its part, Green IT recommends pool certain equipment such as modems (DSL or fiber) or TV boxes. This is an interesting solution to reduce the impact of the connection in buildings and other collective structures.
Finally, the Green IT collective calls foropen APIs. These are still currently closed and make connected objects unusable without the manufacturer’s network. With open APIs, consumers could easily recycle their devices and limit the impact of products linked to defunct carriers.
Repairing electronic equipment makes it possible to limit its environmental impact in a concrete and effective way. Thus, instead of opting immediately for replacement, first consider the repair To limit the environmental impact of your smartphone for example. This form of recycling is both practical and economical.
In addition, there are now many solutions to solve minor problems yourself (online tutorials, repair coffee, etc.)).
On a recent model, Check the seller’s guarantees or after -sales service To know your options in this area. The manufacturer can also offer repair or reconditioning services. The idea is to offer a second life to your connected device to contribute to the reduction of polluting emissions.
If your equipment is irreparable, Take part in the development of the circular economy by depositing it in a dedicated collection point. These devices are usually found near high-tech shops or in recycling centers. You can also return the device to the manufacturer or resell it on the spare parts market.