“I am a junkie, you are a junkie, humanity today is drugged and completely dependent on digital. » Frédéric Bordage, founder of the independent collective GreenIT. fr in 2004, lays the foundations for the contemporary model, spurred by the high technology of the Millennial generation and the next, ultra-connected but also concerned about the environment. However, the manufacture of state-of-the-art equipment is particularly expensive for the planet today. “How far into the environmental footprint are we willing to go to enlarge the size of the TV that sits proudly in the living room? “, also questions the responsible digital expert and digital sobriety.
“For a smartphone, 80 to 90% of the environmental impact comes from the production phase. Renovation and repair are the first levers to be mobilized, particularly in Europe, because they are levers we have our hands on,” says Maxime Efoui-Hess, Lead Industry and Digital Engineer within the general interest lobby The ShiftProject. For Frédéric Bordage, the observation is the same: “More than three quarters of the environmental impacts of digital technology are linked to the manufacture of equipment. By helping users of 20minutes.fr or other online services to keep their equipment longer, we effectively limit them.”
And companies, how do they adapt in a world where crises –Covid-19, war in Ukraine and gas supply cuts, fires, heat waves…– are increasing due to climate change attributed to a society that is always looking for more ? “Today we are hot and we fear a blackout this winter in the middle of the cold”, sums up Maxime Efoui-Hess.
The emergence of new practices and new professions
“It’s an aberration that some corporate workstations benefit from new, state-of-the-art equipment when they don’t need it at all,” says Alexis Valero, founder of Rzilient, a company that sells an IT services platform, particularly to market offering refurbished equipment. “This is one of the pillars of our value proposition, but renewal also involves reassigning pre-existing teams upon our arrival, within the same organization,” he adds.
With the arrival of Back Market, which “evangelizes” reuse and the solidarity economy, mentalities are changing. “With its ‘new is old’ ad, Back Market brings with it a whole generation that finds it much cooler to optimize their budget and the environment,” discusses Isabelle Albert, author of Tech it green: digital transformations and ecological transitions (2020). “Normally a blockchain developer cannot work on refurbished hardware. But each time, we first recommend refurbished equipment, which we put in full compatibility with the needs of companies, ”says Alexis Valero, who prides himself on having only refurbished equipment for his thirty employees. “A sales rep who only opens PowerPoint, emails, and PDFs has no valid rational reason to work on the latest MacBook M1.”
He readily admits that it is easier for Rzilient to target SMEs, “more traditional, less technological” (translate “traditional and quite far from the world of technology”). “There is a really widespread misunderstanding in everything related to IT management: what is your IT department for? “, he asks.
Reconditioning also means saving money
To date, corporate rehabilitation still has some weaknesses that affect its implementation. For Alexis Valero, “he has a size from B to C, but not yet from B to B”. Thus, companies buy their new equipment with a range of services, software, programs, support that refurbished still offers very little. Without forgetting the share of acculturation of employees, “permanently bombarded with advertising on the latest devices and the latest technology”, he points out.
It has a state of mind and values in favor of a green digital, while providing a “win-win” service. “Buying and using new and putting it away after two years in a storage room without trying to repair or recycle it creates a lot of negative financial and extra-financial externalities for SMEs,” he explains. However, by extending the life of its IT fleet, Rzilient allows its customers to save money financially and on their overall environmental impact. “What to advance the strategic reflection on the evolutions of our model that changes the way of producing, and of designing and consuming its products”, Maxime Efoui-Hess abounds.
And the planned obsolescence in all this?
“Planned obsolescence is a relatively well-marketed concept, but it’s not always necessarily an operational reality, says Rzilient’s founder. We managed to double the useful life of computer equipment from an average of three to six years”. While on paper, consumers are convinced that they should change their devices every two or three years. The idea is well anchored and becomes necessary in a society that runs frantically behind infinite growth.
“For fifteen years we have hidden the basic questions: why is it not easier to repair electronic equipment? asks Frédéric Bordage ironically. And to programmed obsolescence is added the increasingly used word green wash. “Showing a green paw is very fashionable, but until the methods and figures used are correct, the green wash it has a great future ahead of it”, denounces the GreenIT expert. Father He believes that, in its current dimension, the digital world in which we live has a programmed end: “in thirty years, our children will no longer be able to receive treatment thanks to digital equipment”, warns the expert again.
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