The United States throws away about 3 million tons of e-waste every year, including about 30 million desktops, 12 million laptops, and 30 million computer monitors. The amount of e-waste increases year-to-year at the highest rate (5%) of any category of trash. E-waste accounts for 20-50 million tons or 5% of all the world’s solid waste. Many of these discarded units contain hazardous materials such as lead, mercury, arsenic, and the carcinogens cadmium and chromium.
John Biggs of TechCrunch recently discussed the effect that a design change of Apple’s devices would have on the amount of e-waste. Reportedly, the company will switch from its current 30-pin port (the rectangular outlet that connects iPods, iPhones, and iPads to docking stations and chargers) to a smaller 9-pin or 19-pin port. Biggs estimates that 45 million devices will become “partially” obsolete as a result of this minor change. This case illustrates one of the unfortunate downsides of rapid technical innovation: it creates e-waste on a massive scale as older (and sometimes still perfectly functioning) devices get put aside or thrown away.
Also, David Meyer of ZDNet reported that the European Union has instituted new e-waste disposal rules this week. The updated regulations increased the recycling goal for e-waste from 20% of all electronics to 45%-65%. They allow any consumer to return any unit of e-waste less than 25cm long to a large retailer to be recycled for free. The rules also discourage manufacturers from using lead, mercury, cadmium, and other hazardous materials in any of their products. As this article shows, businesses need to start planning to reduce their e-waste output. Otherwise they will face increased government and public scrutiny or be forced to pay penalties.
Cloud computing can help companies reduce their e-waste in several ways. First, companies no longer have to purchase, repair, or replace hardware for an on-site IT infrastructure when they sign up for cloud-based solutions. They will not have to dispose of all of their obsolete or broken servers, storage devices, networking hardware, and cables every year. Second, cloud hosting companies utilize hardware more efficiently. They can host multiple applications and infrastructures per server. As a result, cloud hosting providers purchase relatively small amounts of hardware and fully utilize their servers, storage devices, and networking hardware before disposing of them.
Third, companies that adopt cloud-based solutions do not have to frequently repair or replace their end-user hardware such as desktops, laptops, keyboards, mice, and monitors. The servers of the hosting company will take care of the majority of the processing and storage. Old devices will perform as well as brand-new hardware with cloud-based solutions. Businesses may not even have to purchase any new hardware: employees can also access cloud-hosted applications and infrastructures from their personal laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Unlike other revolutionary technologies, cloud computing does not require people to get rid of their old devices. Instead, the cloud revitalizes older computers and infrastructure hardware.
IronOrbit provides private and hybrid cloud solutions that will significantly decrease your e-waste output in the long term. IronOrbit can customize your infrastructure to decrease its power consumption. Our patented Atomic Speed Technology also ensures that our hardware will be fully utilized before the end of its lifespan. IronOrbit provides the industry’s most environmentally-friendly cloud-based solutions—and without sacrificing security, reliability, or performance.