Small electronic products have significant environmental impacts. But what are the issues that matter, and what counts as a more sustainable choice?
Green Capital’s Buying Better research suggests 5 tips for consumers wanting to buy more environmentally friendly electronics.
Small electronics is a diverse product area … it is difficult to establish a clear hierarchy for purchasing decisions. Despite this, there are a number of factors that will assist buyers to make more environmentally friendly purchasing decisions:
1. Design for repair and recycling (design for disassembly)
– ideally, there will be no glued-on parts and individual components of the product can be replaced when broken.
2. Energy efficiency
– this is important for products which are in constant use such as mobile phones, but should not be overemphasised for products where life-cycle analysis shows that energy consumed in the use phase only makes up a very small amount of the overall environmental footprint.
3. Use of recycled plastics and materials
– cardboard and moulded cardboard from 100% post-consumer waste is ideal; in addition some major manufacturers are exploring new, plant root-based packaging options.
5. Environmental performance of the manufacturer
– regularly updated, rigorously researched information on individual manufacturers can be obtained from guides such as Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics.