WIT Press

MEASURING THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF ICT HARDWARE

Price

Free (open access)

Paper DOI

10.2495/SDP-V11-N6-1064-1076

Volume

Volume 11 (2016), Issue 6

Pages

12

Page Range

1064 - 1076

Author(s)

BARBARA KRUMAY & ROMAN BRANDTWEINER WU

Abstract

Society needs information and communication technology (ICT) hardware to produce, process and store highly valuable information. This hardware, of course, affects the environment throughout its whole life cycle, starting with manufacturing, where the necessary scarce and precious resources (e.g. rare earth metals) are often mined under miserable environmental conditions. This leads to pollution of soil, water and air in the present as well as for the future. During the use phase of ICT hardware, energy consumption impacts the environment. At the end of life of ICT hardware, recycling, disposing as e-waste in landfills or disassembling are additional impacts that affect the environment. More and more producers and users, especially companies, want to measure these impacts, which is a complex task. However, approaches to measure the impacts are at hand, either  as single indicators, measuring one specific impact, or as composed indicators, combining different single indicators into one ‘summarizing’ indicator. However, collection of data, measurement, assessment and interpretation are challenging. Unfortunately, guidelines for those who want to measure the impact of ICT hardware are rare. With our research, we aim to shed light on the various approaches to measure impacts of ICT hardware as well as their application in practice. Based on a literature review, we identified different indicators and  them to the attention of experts from companies to assess these approaches in terms of practicability, significance and value for practice. The results show that research investigates and proposes a variety of different more or less complex indicators. However, business prefers single indicators, which are easy to measure and understand.

Keywords

impact of ICT hardware, measurement, performance indicators