“I’m a junkie, you’re a junkie, today’s humanity is drugged and completely dependent on the digital. » Frédéric Bordage, founder of the independent collective GreenIT. fr in 2004, sets the framework for the contemporary model, driven by high-tech by the millennial generation and the following generations, ultra-connected but also environmentally concerned. However, today’s state-of-the-art devices are particularly costly to the planet to produce. “To what level of environmental impact are we willing to increase the size of the TV that stands proud in the living room? “, the expert for responsible digital and digital sobriety further questions.
“With a smartphone, 80 to 90% of the environmental impact comes from the production phase. Refurbishment and repair are the first levers to be mobilized, especially in Europe because we have these levers in our hands,” says Maxime Efoui-Hess, digital and industry director at the general interest lobby The ShiftProject. For Frédéric Bordage, the observation is the same: “More than three quarters of the environmental impact of digital technology is related to the manufacture of devices. By helping users of 20minutes.fr or other online services to keep their equipment longer, we effectively restrict them.”
And companies, how are they adapting to a world where crises – Covid-19, war in Ukraine and gas supply disruption, fires, heatwaves… – are increasing due to climate change attributed to a society always on the looking for more is? “Today we are hot and we fear one blackout this winter in the middle of the cold,” summarizes Maxime Efoui-Hess.
The emergence of new practices and new professions
“It’s an aberration that some corporate workplaces would benefit from new, cutting-edge devices when they absolutely don’t need them,” says Alexis Valero, founder of Rzilient, a company that sells an IT services platform, specifically with a marketplace offer refurbished devices. “This is one of the pillars of our value proposition, but modernization also involves reallocating pre-existing equipment as we arrive within the same organization,” he adds.
With the advent of the Back Market, which “evangelizes” reuse and the solidarity economy, mentalities are changing. “Back Market, with its ‘new is old’ ad, is pulling in a whole generation that thinks it’s much cooler to optimize their household and the environment,” analyzes Isabelle Albert, author of Tech it green: digital transformations and ecological transitions (2020). “Typically, a blockchain developer cannot work on refurbished hardware. But every time we recommend refurbished devices first, which we use in full compatibility with the needs of the companies,” says Alexis Valero, who is proud to have only refurbished devices 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 Rzilient finds it easier to target SMEs, “more traditional, less techie” (translates to “traditional and quite far from the world of technology”). “There’s a really common misconception about anything related to IT management: What is your IT department for? “, he asks.
Reconditioning also means saving money
Today, corporate refurbishment still has some weaknesses that affect implementation. For Alexis Valero, “It’s designed for B to C, but not B to B yet.” Companies buy their new devices with a range of services, software, programs and support that still offers very little that has been completely overhauled. Not forgetting the employee acculturation component, “who are constantly being bombarded with advertising on the latest devices and cutting-edge tech,” he notes.
Has an attitude and values in favor of an ecological digital, while offering a “win-win” service. “Buying new and using it and storing it in a storage room after two years without trying to repair or recycle it creates many negative financial and extra-financial externalities for SMEs,” he explains. However, by extending the lifespan of their IT fleet, Rzilient enables its customers to save money, both financially and in terms of overall environmental impact. “What can drive the strategic reflection on the developments of our model that transforms the way of making, designing and consuming its products,” says Maxime Efoui-Hess.
And planned obsolescence in all of this?
“Planned obsolescence is a relatively well-marketed concept, but it’s not necessarily always an operational reality,” notes the Rzilient founder. We manage to double the lifespan of IT equipment from an average of three to six years.”. On paper, consumers are convinced that they need to change their devices every two to three years. The idea is well-established and necessary in a society frantically chasing infinite growth.
“For fifteen years we have ignored the fundamental problems: Why isn’t it easier to fix electronic devices? asks Frédéric Bordage ironically. And on top of planned obsolescence comes the increasingly used word green washing. “Showing a green paw is very much in vogue, but until the methods and figures used are right, that is green washing has a great future ahead of it,” denounces the GreenIT expert. Fr. He believes that the digital world in which we move has a programmed end in its current dimension: “In thirty years, thanks to digital devices, our children will no longer be able to be treated,” warns the expert again.