Since the industrial revolution, new technologies have swept the world with immense power and massive scale. Technological advancements in developed countries and around the world are happening at a rapid pace.
Sustained technological advancement is essential for the development and quality of life but we can’t ignore the negative impact of technology on the environment. On World Environment Day, we take a look at three ways technology impacts the environment.
1. Mining for minerals
A huge amount of the finite natural resources and precious metals go into the making of electronics and other modern technology. Due to the increasing global demand, the mining of rare-earth metals and other natural resources is increasing. Large-scale mineral, ore and oil exploration has been on the rise causing depletion of natural resources.
2. Energy use and carbon footprint
It is no surprise that big manufacturers require massive amounts of energy to keep steady production levels. This leads to the burning of more fossil fuels to generate power which adds to climate change. Further, the transportation of electronic products around the world also comes with a high carbon cost. This doesn’t end here, every time a user plugs an electronic device into a non-renewable power source, the carbon footprint of these devices goes up.
Electronic and modern tech products also pose a problem at the end of their lives. About 20 to 50 million metric tonnes of e-waste are disposed of worldwide each year, as per dosomething.org. These contain toxic chemicals and materials that leak and often pollute the land, water bodies and oceans. Currently, as per estimates, only 1/5 of e-waste generated globally is formally recycled. Also, millions of people around the world who are often believed to work unofficially to salvage the precious materials used in smartphones are exposed to dangerous working environments, and they also put the surrounding environment at threat.
Here’s what 5 tech firms are doing to reduce carbon footprint
Many such companies are challenging themselves to find solutions and setting ambitious targets to reduce the carbon emissions produced by their organisations and supply chains. We take a look at a few.
Apple has committed to ensuring 100 percent carbon neutrality for its supply chains and products. The company is entirely carbon neutral in its operations and aims to make a climate impact with every Apple device sold, and aspires to be net-zero by 2030. Apple also has a commitment from over 70 of its suppliers to use 100 percent renewable energy. It is also developing low-carbon production methods and investing in afforestation and technologies that remove carbon from the environment.
Intel aims to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. The company is also working to increase energy efficiency and lower the carbon footprint of Intel products and platforms. Intel has pledged to invest $300 million in energy conservation at its facilities. It is also increasing supplier focus on energy conservation and renewable energy sourcing and increasing chemical and resource efficiencies across production.
Microsoft is committed to becoming carbon negative by 2030. The company has set an ambitious target of removing carbon from the environment that is equivalent to the emissions made by the company directly or indirectly since 1975. This target is to be achieved by 2025 and the company has launched a $1 billion climate innovation fund aimed at the global development of carbon reduction, capture, and removal technologies.
Samsung has set multiple targets to be reached by 2025. It aims to reduce its environmental footprint and resource depletion from production to disposal of its products. These commitments include incorporating recycled material into all-new mobile products, eliminating all plastic in mobile packaging, and achieving zero waste in landfills by 2025.
Philips proposed a five-year ‘Healthy people, Sustainable planet’ program, and the company is set to meet all its targets with the expansion of its renewable energy sourcing initiatives, and Green Revenues. Philips has also developed a Green Products and Solutions portfolio by creating innovative and award-winning green products. The company has increased energy efficiency in manufacturing. It has also urged its suppliers to go carbon neutral and wants at least half of its supply to come from companies that commit to science-based targets to reduce carbon emissions by 2025.
(Edited by : Sudarsanan Mani)
First Published: IST