Greenpeace questioned the real green motivations by computer hardware manufacturers at the Cebit exhibition last week. Cebit’s commitments to Green IT were in fact disappointingly underwhelming.
The question is whether “Green IT” is really being taken that seriously beyond the PR activity and the glossy brochure work lovingly reproduced on recycled touchy-feely Hemp paper.
There were no toxics-free hardware demonstrations, no solutions to the problems with e-waste, or recycling – just an un-manned booth lost behind the “tree of commitment“ – ironically very under watered and wilting – all the servers in the house were clearly heating up its atmosphere; a global microcosm if ever I saw one.
Toxic chemicals, e-waste and the low recycling rate aren’t a big issue there. Many “Green IT” companies are exhibiting software and hardware technologies to reduce energy consumption in data centers. There, the search for less energy consumption is of course not mainly motivated by ecological reasons, but by financial reasons. The computer manufacturer Fujitsu Siemens also announced a zero watt screen which zero-consuming stand-by mode. Thus, energy (bottom line) efficiency is all the rave. e-waste and ever shorter product life-cycles thanks to over production – not such a hot topic.
There was no one at Cebit advocating that consumers buy and sell pre-owned and used consumer electronics as a way of reducing e-waste. This is not surprising, as any significant uptake on such a proposal would directly impact the profits of the consumer electronics industry.
Greenpeace did find some little innovative and eco-friendly things in the award-winner exhibition of International Forum Design at Cebit. One of the product design awards was awarded for a product called USB-Cell – batteries which have an integrated USB port and can be charged without a special charger, so you’ll never be without power.
Cebit did a good job in giving the impression that “Green IT” is the big thing but the tree of commitment’s condition said it all.