EXOP - Council on Environmental Quality and Office of Environmental

Eliminating E-Waste and Stand-by Losses

Rather than storing old electronic devices the government should find a way to recycle e-waste and store archived information digitally. This would save costs that are now devoted to providing the infrastructure, capital, energy, labor and shipping costs associated with storing outdated electronics. Technological advancements have been expanding rapidly and as future innovations are brought online having a sustainable system in place for recycling e-waste will provide additional cost savings as well as environmental benefits. Ideally the government would identify regionally appropriate areas for recycling federal e-waste thus potentially cutting down on current shipping costs. Another option could be to design an archiving protocol and mechanism for wiping data off of equipment that can then be disposed of locally. The government should also review guidelines related to how often federal employees receive new electronic equipment. Do employees really need new laptops every year? Can individuals opt out of receiving new electronics if their current model is deemed adequate and functional? Additionally, I urge the government to look into "Green Computing" and "Green IT" practices such as those listed in "Kick the Habit: A UN Guide to Climate Neutrality" on p.154. The same book has great information on the potential savings of converting to electronics that do not have "standby mode" emissions and energy costs associated with them, (p.104-105). A simple solution is to use multi-plug rails across the government that are switched off over night. This would provide substantial savings in power consumption as well as associated CO2 emissions. "The International Energy Agency estimates that standby mode could be causing a full 1% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, close to what the entire aviation industry emits," (p.104-105 Kick the Habit). I also recommend all of the money saving ideas on p.17 of Kick the Habit that provide simultaneous wins for the environment.

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Idea No. 11595