Total product life cycle carbon footprint (kg CO2e)
Apple MacBook Pro 14,3
Apple MacBook Pro 15,1
Apple MacBook Pro 16,1
Dell XPS 13 9365 2-In-1
HP Chromebook 11a
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6 20XY, 20Y0
HP Spectre x360 16 inch 2-in-1 Laptop PC
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 20XW, 20XX
Dell XPS 13 9310
HP Pavilion 13 Laptop PC
In a world where more of us than ever use a laptop for work, it’s important to understand just how much of an environmental impact this key piece of equipment has.
To calculate the carbon footprint of your laptop, you have to look at its entire life cycle.
Sure, carbon emissions are produced during the laptop’s manufacturing process. But depending on its energy efficiency, there’s also the electricity you’ll need to run it. Not to mention any WiFi or data you use for browsing online.
Laptops tend to use between 50 and 100W/hour, which translates to carbon emissions of between 44kg and 88kg of CO2 per year for average daily usage. To offset the emissions of a single device, you’d need to plant two trees.
Why do laptops create carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions?
There are two stages of carbon emission production when it comes to laptops. There are the emissions that come from producing the laptop and the CO2 emissions that come from the energy consumption of the laptop during its lifespan.
Let’s dive in and take a look in depth at these emissions.
These come from the manufacture and shipping of a laptop. The majority of manufacturing emissions come from the materials used for the motherboard, display, and SSD, as well as the production techniques.
Factories, for example, are well-known for producing carbon emissions, and they’re where the majority of laptops are built.
The components of a typical laptop also contain heavy or precious raw materials that need to be dug out of the ground, often using unsustainable methods.
Once the laptop has been made, it’s all good, though, right? Not quite.
The laptop(s) will then need to be shipped to consumers. The emissions caused by vehicles in the supply chain contribute to Scope 3 emissions, which are worse if the laptops are transported by air rather than land or sea.
Use of laptop emissions
The average laptop lasts 4 years and has a daily usage time of around 8 hours. That’s a lot of time spent plugged in and using the internet. While we imagine the ‘cloud’ as an abstract space that holds all our data, it very much exists as a physical space.
In fact, the large data centres which hold the cloud require a significant amount of energy to power up and cool down.
We’ve all been there. You open your laptop lid one day, and the screen is entirely blank. Your laptop has had its last hurrah. But what happens to your laptop if you simply throw it away with the rest of your rubbish?
Your laptop won’t decompose and may even leak harmful materials while in landfill, causing further pollution. Instead of throwing your laptop away, recycle it with an electronics company or the original manufacturer.
How can we reduce laptop emissions?
Reducing laptop emissions involves adjusting the way you use your laptop daily and the type of laptop you choose to buy. There are multiple ways to laptop shop guilt-free with sustainability in mind and reduce your laptop’s power consumption.
- Opt for one of the laptops which provides the least amount of carbon emissions across its lifespan.
- Choose renewable energy to power your home.
- Reuse a laptop in working condition that you already have before opting for a brand new one.
- Buy a laptop with a long life expectancy to avoid e-waste.
- Reduce the brightness of your laptop and turn off screensavers to reduce energy use.
- Only plug in your laptop when it’s absolutely necessary, rather than leaving it plugged in all day.
- At your laptop’s end-of-life, recycle it instead of throwing it in landfill.
The carbon footprint of a laptop is also impacted by a Scope 3 emission; browsing the internet. Here’s how to reduce the product carbon footprint while using it to surf the web. You can apply these principles to smartphones too.
- Watch video content sparingly.
- Connect to WiFi instead of 4G.
- Send fewer unnecessary emails. If every adult in the UK sent one less ‘thank you’ email a year, it could save 16,433 tonnes of carbon per annum.
Unfortunately, there’s not yet a carbon-neutral laptop, and there are few ways to work at a desk job without access to some sort of laptop or desktop.
Instead of resorting to living like a hermit, implement our tips to reduce energy consumption and help minimise the effects of global warming.