Sustainable Procurement Tools

Embedding sustainability requirements

Early on in the pre-procurement discussions, climate was identified as a risk factor due to the large carbon footprint associated with ICT equipment. Identifying climate as a risk area gave the team the motivation to undertake a life cycle costing assessment of purchasing new computers vs purchasing solid state hard drives and upgrading memory. This identified that upgrading existing equipment would save carbon across all stages of the equipment’s life cycle (Table 1).

New Computers Hard Drives and Memory Upgrade

Impacts of Obtaining Raw Materials

  • ICT production uses rare earth materials such as gold, silver, and palladium, whose extraction uses a lot of carbon.
  • Because of this, ICT production is very carbon intensive.
  • While both Solid State Drives (SSDs) and Hard-Disk Drives (HDDs) require rare earth metals for their production, the quantity required for SSDs is significantly lower, meaning that less carbon is required for their manufacture.
  • SSDs last longer, meaning that carbon in production is lowered through extended lifecycles and less frequent replacement.
  • Producing a hard drive requires vastly less energy than producing an entire computer.

Impacts of Manufacturing and Logistics

  • Many different components to manufacture (hard drives, screens, keyboards, batteries, webcams etc.). Carbon associated with each component.
  • Heavy and large – high carbon cost of shipping.
  • High packaging requirement to protect equipment (Styrofoam, plastic, cardboard).
  • Only one component to manufacture (hard drive)
  • Light and small – can ship more per vehicle, lowering the carbon cost of shipping.
  • Plastic and cardboard only, and less than required for a computer.

Impacts During Use of Product/Service

  • Increased energy efficiency compared to old computers
  • Electricity usage on standby
  • Hard drive and memory upgrade allow old computers to match the energy efficiency of new computers.
  • Extends the life of existing computers – SSDs last approximately 5 years and could be replaced again after this time.
  • Electricity usage on standby.
Impacts At End of Life/Disposal
  • High volume of material to landfill.
  • Lots of different components – difficult and carbon intensive to recycle.
  • Low volume of material to landfill.
  • Only one component which makes recycling much easier.

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