Joint press release of the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), the Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) and the Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM)

Green IT - 6th Annual Conference of BMU, UBA and BITKOM

Do consumers consider environmental aspects when buying IT products? How significant are the individual steps of the value chain of IT products in terms of environmental protection? How can product design facilitate reuse and recycling? These questions were discussed at the 6th annual conference “Green IT Along the Value Chain” in Berlin, an event organised jointly by the Federal Environment Ministry (BMU), the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) and the Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM).

The basic idea and objective of the green IT concept is to use and operate information and communication technology (ICT for short) in the most energy and resource efficient way. This year’s conference identified important green IT areas to be addressed and possible solutions throughout the entire life cycle of ICT. The conference programme also included a study on the environmental impacts of notebook computer manufacturing, recent developments in the energy efficiency of data centres, raw materials use and reuse and recycling of ICT products.

BITKOM President Prof. Dieter Kempf highlighted that energy and resource needs are an important factor in ICT which requires further optimisation. “Energy consumption of ICT devices in the use phase has already been considerably reduced. In future, it will be increasingly important to take account of energy and resource consumption at all stages of the life cycle of products”, Kempf said. A recent consumer survey commissioned by BITKOM showed that environmental properties play a big role in purchases of high-tech equipment. 85 percent of those surveyed said that aspects such as low energy consumption and environmentally friendly materials were important or very important to them. 81 percent would pay a higher price for an environmentally sound product. 56 percent would even accept a price difference of 5 percent or more.

In terms of methodology, the Forsa institute for opinion research conducted a poll among 500 people across Germany on behalf of BITKOM. The data collected is representative.

Ursula Heinen-Esser, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Environment Ministry, believes that it is vital to make greater use of the efficiency potential in the ICT sector. She stressed that besides energy efficiency, manufacturing and disposal of ICT products are equally significant for the environment: “The latest studies highlight that greater attention should be paid in the design stage to the possibility of upgrading and retrofitting devices. The “Blue Angel” eco-label provides an opportunity for manufacturers, users and consumers to identify the best ICT products and ensure that all important environmental aspects have been taken into account”, Heinen-Esser commented. She also underlined the progress made by the German government towards its goal of reducing the energy consumption of government IT by 40 percent between 2009 and 2013.

Jochen Flasbarth, President of the Federal Environment Agency, pointed out that the whole product life cycle must be considered. He stressed: “The amount of resources needed for ICT products must be reduced in absolute terms. We need products with longer lifespans that can be easily reused and recovered. Product quality encompasses new functions, but also aspects such as reliability, durability and repairability. For example, batteries should be easy to remove.” A study on notebooks commissioned by the Federal Environment Agency revealed that the main share of climate gases is caused during the manufacturing of products. Thus, from a climate perspective, it is important to use ICT devices for as long a period as possible.

The BMU, UBA and BITKOM agreed that the challenges can only be tackled if policy-makers, industry and users work together. For example, there is a joint initiative of the Procurement Office of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, BITKOM, UBA and the Federal Office of the Bundeswehr for Information Management and Information Technology. This initiative is intended to develop guidance for product-neutral and environmentally sound procurement of ICT. Guidance documents for PCs and notebooks have already been published. Requirements for the environmentally friendly procurement of servers, monitors and thin clients are currently being drafted.

Dessau-Roßlau, 26 September 2012

Umweltbundesamt Hauptsitz

Wörlitzer Platz 1
06844 Dessau-Roßlau

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